We stand in the crisp night air, our breath forming billowing wreaths around us, before drifting slowly away. This reminds me of time – gossamer, intangible, something that cannot be held onto.
It is quiet and still and we are waiting, our cold hands wrapped snugly around our steaming mugs of cocoa laced with peppermint liqueur, a small nod to this one special night.
Suddenly the distant hills come alive with the bright, crackling sparks of brilliantly colored lights. Red, green, blue and white, they rise from the quiet hills, illuminating the night sky before falling, falling and fading away.
The air becomes thick with the faraway booms and pops of fireworks, as the clock strikes midnight and we raise our mugs to another year. He draws me close and gently kisses my cheek. We are best friends, partners in life, husband and wife, co-conspirators and fellow weary travelers on the road of life. This quiet celebration is exactly right.
We watch the dark outlines of rolling hills, waiting and listening, drawing in our breath, lest the fleeting moments of sparkling illumination become obscured. Our exhalations are the applause, as we silently witness the transition of time, from one year to the next. Gradually the night becomes quiet, returning to dark wilderness once more. We step inside to the warmth of the fire.
He says, “It’s been quite a year.” He says that every year. And every year I agree.
He says, “We still have each other.” I laugh, but these simple words strike home, for I know how fragile and fleeting life is. I am profoundly grateful and bow my head. When I look up, I see his eyes glimmering with a sentimental mist. Yes, we still have each other.
We have celebrated many a New Year’s Eve together, a lifetime’s worth. We have gone to parties, weddings and Hawaiian luau shows. But more often than not, we have spent this night at home. Four children were hard to park.
We had too many responsibilities, too many obligations. We had jobs and children that required early risings, even on New Year’s Day. There were pets afraid of the surrounding celebrations, destructive in their fear. For years I have painted over the chewed door jamb of one such New Year’s night out, compliments of Pete, the spotted hound.
We’ve made many New Year’s resolutions, some just recently found gracing the inside cover of an old journal. “Potty train the baby. Keep the inside of the car clean. Lose 10 lbs.”
I did get one of those resolutions accomplished; the baby did get potty trained.
It’s also a good time to reflect on the year past. The song we all sing by the beloved Scottish poet, Robert Burns, “Auld Lang Syne,” means “Old Long Ago.” We are asked, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of Auld Lang Syne?”
As we sit by the fire warming ourselves after our wilderness light show, we talk of this “Old Long Ago.” For isn’t it our past that helps to create the people we are now, sifting through the memories and keeping the best, leaving the rest as lessons well-learned?
We speak of those we have loved and lost, remembering the laughter and the joy, taking the best along with us as we move forward without them. We speak of our hopes and dreams for this new year and all that we are grateful for. We talk of all that we have overcome in our struggles of the past.
But most of all, we talk of our wish for the world – that everyone feels grateful to have each other. After all, we have just survived the end of the Mayan calendar. We must be doing something right.Karen Frost, one of six reader columnists whose work appears on this page, is the mother of four grown children. She lives in Buckley with her husband and assorted pets. She blogs at beatriceeuphemievintagecottage style.blogspot.com. Email her at email@example.com.