Should old acquaintances be forgotten?

Westminster chimes are a harmonic symbol of time for some people. Karen (my spouse) who is very musical pointed out to me that sounds often represent time for us. The ticking of a clock, the coo coo bird in an old fashioned grandfathers clock or the bells chiming at noon in many towns are all tuneful measures of the role that time plays in our lives.

There are many songs that sing about time or make reference to time; perhaps the most famous being Auld Lang Syne. Robert Burns (the famous Scottish Poet) is known as the restorer of this song via his poetry which was based on perhaps an earlier version that was lost or wherein only a few parts remained. This song is known throughout the world and popularly associated with the end of the old year and the bringing in of the New Year. The three words can be translated as “old long ago, or old long since.” It is about old friends and old times that were forgotten and about the joy of looking forward to new times and new memories.

The verse “should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind” is a question we never answer during our New Years celebration, but it really does deserve an answer. When do we forget old friends and move on? When do we try to rekindle a past friendship? Who gets to be forgotten and who should we remembered? Are all old friends worth keeping? When do we need to forget some and move on? How do we decide whom to forget and never bring to mind? I still wrestle with this problem and I wonder how you decide. I would love to hear your thoughts on old friends and acquaintances.

This year when you sing this song, sing all the verses and in the traditional circle perhaps share who you remember and who you will forget. It will be quite an interesting New Year.

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