Thursday, December 30, 2010

Auld lang syne, my dear

I have never understood why people make a big deal out of the arrival of a new year.

It's not a grumpy old fart thing. I've just never seen the significance of celebrating the arrival of another new day. It happens every 24 hours. But once each year it happens and people go crazy drinking and hugging and kissing each other and often total strangers. I have nothing against drinking or hugging and kissing. It's the occasion that stumps me.

Some people suggest New Year's Eve is just an excuse for a party.

Maybe, but I think there's something deeper going on here, something meaningful. Mortality, perhaps? I want to understand, to "get it." So, today I began looking into the holiday and I started by researching the song that defines the event and the spirit:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
 For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o'kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

That's the first of several verses and choruses of the original poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. Literally translated, the Scottish "auld lang syne" means "old long since," but in context, "For auld lang syne" is loosely translated to mean, "for the sake of old times."
The little light bulb has just gone on in the cartoon balloon over my head!

New Year's Eve isn't about the arrival of a new year, it's about the passing of the old year! 

(Oh, puh-leeze, cut me a little slack. I'm often late to arrive at an obvious conclusion. Especially when people say the opposite of what they mean!) 

It's not about the arriving future, it's about the departing past? Well, Hell's bells, then why don't we make it about that and have an evening of nostalgia and reminiscence? Why don't we just haul out photo albums and tell each other great stories from our personal pasts? Why all the expense, the travel, the fancy meals and too much booze? Why do we insist on making New Year's Eve a big deal?

I don't know. Maybe they're right. Maybe it really is just an excuse for a party and kissing total strangers.

Still, in the words of Robert Burns:

 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.

How can you argue with that?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


As I type these words I am awaiting a knock at the door from the repo man.

He's coming to get my beloved motor home. Unemployed for four months now, I must let her go. (I say "her" because men always give cars, boats and RVs women's names. We love them, ya know? We really, really do. But at this point I'm glad I never named her.)

It's just a thing. Just stuff. Frankly, I'll be glad to have it out of the driveway where it was a constant, nagging reminder of my income shortage.

Carolann and I had a couple of years of great comfort, relaxation and good times in and around our motor home.

The repo man can't take the good times.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Art Linkletter would be proud

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I believe that. So, today I'm going to spare you  959 words.

Our five-year-old grandson is learning to spell. Doing exceptionally well, too. Right up to that last letter.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Up on the houstop reindeer pause...

(This is an annual re-publication of my holiday warning I issue to friends and strangers alike every year at this time. Please take heed. Stay off the roof!)

December 8th is an anniversary for me. This time it will mark twenty years since the day I fell off the roof of our house while putting up Christmas lights.

I only fell eight or ten feet and I managed my fall. Knowing that I couldn’t prevent it I intentionally jumped and hit the ground with a tuck and roll strategy to minimize the damage. I shattered nearly every bone in both heels and ankles. After five hours of reconstructive surgery I spent a week in a hospital. I was in a wheelchair for the next three months while receiving painful physical therapy three times a week. And now, nineteen years later, I still walk with a noticeable limp and am in constant pain. If I spend a full day on my feet for some special occasion — a family outing at Disneyland, for example — the pain can be so excruciating I can’t sleep. On my best days it’s just a constant, nagging reminder of one really bad decision I made a couple of decades ago.

And I’m the lucky one. 

I could have easily broken my neck or back and been in that wheelchair for life, paralyzed from the waist down. I could have died. People do, even from a fall of just eight feet. The doctors at the ER told me ‘tis the season. They get many such cases every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And there is one thing all of us have in common: We’re all, every one of us, smarter than the fools who will take a tumble.

Absolutely none of us think we might fall off the roof when we go up there.

I know you. You don’t think so, either. You’ll be more careful than I was. “Thanks for the heads up!” you’re thinking. That was my attitude, too.

That morning, December 8, 1990, Carolann phoned me from a friend’s house to say she saw a sign in our neighborhood for a guy who would put up Christmas lights for $20 but I said, “Oh, no. It’s my job. I’m the dad!” It cost me thirty THOUSAND dollars and a lifetime of constant pain to put the lights up that year.

And there are the dreams.

You have occasional dreams of being able to fly? I have frequent dreams of being able to run again, to run like the wind in a baseball outfield as I did when I was young or just to chase after my grandsons at my current age. I can’t do that. I have to call after them and hope they run back to me.

All for the sake of Christmas lights.

I met my wife when we were teammates on a competition dance team. I haven’t been able to dance with her for nineteen years now. Oh, we can slow dance but we can’t do the show-off stuff, the fun spins and fancy twirls that brought us together in the first place.

Thanks to those damned Christmas lights.

Frankly, I get tired of telling this story so I’m not putting much effort into it.

Some of you have no plans to go on the roof so it doesn’t matter. The rest of you are going up on the roof no matter what I say.

Personally, I’m not going to fall off anything higher than a bed or a barstool from here on out. You all do what you like.

You've been warned.

Merry Christmas! (It's a lot more fun without oxycodone.)
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