Well, Happy New Year

As we grab a mug of the grog tonight and rally round to sing Auld Lang Syne remember to latch on to your neighbour’s arm in the proper Scottish way—only at the last verse. I’ll not disgrace the tune by singing it …

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
For auld lang syne.

And we’ll take a right good-will drink for the sake of old times, my friend.

Robby Burns knew a thing or two about New Years. More than the fact his song became a favourite of Hogmanay—the Scots word for the last day of the year, the one that starts tonight and runs right through to tomorrow morning.

But it’s getting harder and harder to find good-will in the world these days. Nevertheless, hope sneaks in at the New Year.

For Jews, the New Year, after 7 cycles of 7 years each, is the Jubilee—a time when all debts are forgiven. It’s a kind of societal re-boot. The Occupy movement has started something called the Rolling Jubilee. They raise funds to buy people’s debt. But instead of collecting it, they forgive it.

For Muslims, the first day of the month of Muharram is the New Year. To fight in that month is a great sin. Palestinians and Israelis have joined hands in The Parents Circle — a grassroots organization of people from both sides who have lost family to the hostilities. Together, they promote peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.

Let us dare to hope tonight. And may the cup of kindness you share with friends be a ‘right gude-willy waught’ for peace and equality, for all time’s sake.

© David McLaren December  2012

This was originally written for broadcast on the Bayshore group of stations (including CFOS in Owen Sound). I did not sing.


About David McLaren

David McLaren is an award-winning writer. He has worked in government and the private sector, with NGOs and First Nations in Ontario. He is currently writing from Neyaashiinigamiing on the shore of Georgian Bay and can be reached at david.mclaren@utoronto.ca. In February 2015, he won the nomination for the NDP to represent the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound in the 2015 federal election. See that page for writings during the campaign.
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2 Responses to Well, Happy New Year

  1. mcsnifter says:

    Well, said, DM. I’m a RB fan from my childhood and on. I’ve never seen that verse parsed so well. We could make a good duet, if you’re afraid you’ll disgrace the tune by singing it. The only way I can carry a tune is in a brief case.

    Best wishes to you and yours for a year of good health, much happiness and bouts of well-being. It would be nice if this is the year for me to head up your way. Do you ever travel up the eastern shore of the Bay?


    • And a guid New Year tae ye, Mickey. As the poet says hissel in the fowert varse,
      We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
      frae morning sun till dine;
      But seas between us braid hae roar’d
      sin auld lang syne.

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