Thursday, December 30, 2010

“We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne.”

It’s that day of the year when you either celebrate and look forward to what the New Year has in store or you sit and recollect what happened in the year that you are leaving behind. Whether you are looking into a crystal ball or in the rear view mirror – it’s all about reflection. Just like Bridgette Jones it’s about taking stock, tallying up the numbers in your life, doing a few calculations and deciding whether you are winning or not.

That probably explains why some years you will find me sitting at home in my slippers watching The Royal Variety Show and other years I will be putting my left leg in, my left leg out, doing the Hokey Cokey with a bunch of jolly strangers.

Traditionally New Year was a time for first footing, dark haired strangers bearing coal and a lot of Scottish people on the TV swinging their kilts and their whisky bottles. My father, Harry, used to celebrate New Year in a big way down at his local while we children waited for him to come home intoxicated so that we could laugh at him. One year he did the Highland fling with a party can - a huge can of beer that held seven pints – then opened it! We welcomed 1962 in a shower of beer and the house still reeked of Ansell’s’ bitter in June!

Another year – 1976 I think - the family accompanied dad to his local, the Seven Stars, and at midnight we three sisters marched into the bar because that was the year that women were declared equal and couldn’t be refused entry anywhere based on their gender. We wanted the moon, equal pay and the opportunity to buy a pint in the snug! My sister took our newly legislated freedom a step further by marching into the Gents toilets while my father cried into his beer and declared that the world had gone mad.

Perhaps that’s why my father chose the 31st December to cast off his mortal coil and join the spirit in the sky. That year I lay in bed listening to neighbours singing Auld Lang Syne, distant fireworks and the world celebrating and I wandered how people could be so happy while I was so sad. I suppose that sums up New Years Eve – some have had a year to celebrate and others are sadly counting their losses.

Since being in South Africa we have the additional burden of celebrating twice – at midnight and at 2am as we wait for and send good luck messages to the UK. A few of years ago I opted to babysit for New Year and when friends asked had I seen the New Year in – I replied, “Yes! At 23h30, 00h15, 01h45, 02h30 and 04h10!” I had forgotten that is what New Year’s Eve is like with a 3 year old.

I am also remembering a New Year spent in Cape Town visiting a friends who were in isolation there. Our dear friend had been diagnosed with acute T-cell limblastic lymphoma so while the champagne corks were popping, he was in hospital popping pills and battling the horrors of chemo. Friends of friends opened their home to us and we saw the 2010 in with strangers in Monte Vista and drove back as the sun came over Table Mountain unsure of what the year held. He is a survivor and a hero and I know will celebrate many New Years!

Last year,Tony and I were singing,“We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne,"  with sister Julia and Tom in Manchester - dining in style and dancing the night away. Such a joyful evening and the expectation of a great year ahead - Four weeks later, I was numb with shock and arranging Tony's funeral - the bright New Year became dark and monochrome and the struggle to overcome loss began.

Tonight will see me quietly seeing 2014 in with a special friend in KZN - reflecting and remembering the past but definitely looking forward - celebrating the survivor within me and capacity of the human heart to heal and dare to dream. 

Not sure whether we will be doing the Hokey Cokey this year as sadly , Larry La Prise, the man who wrote "The Hokey Pokey" died peacefully at age 93 last week. The most traumatic part for the family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in..... and then the trouble started. Hee Hee!

Happy New Year to all my family and friends........and special thoughts of my dad Harry – I hope that you are enjoying a wee dram at the ‘eighth star.’


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