Auld Lang Syne

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to name that tune.  You play a little bit of a song, and everyone tries to guess it, right?  Either you know the song or you don’t.  End of story.  

Oh, were it only that simple!

On a fateful New Year’s Eve ten years ago, my wife and I found ourselves locked in a heated battle of the minds over a party game called Cranium.  In this epic clash of champions, we men faced off against our much smarter wives and were getting blown away.

During this particular round, my teammate simply had to draw a card and hum the tune named on said card for the rest of us to identify.  The only problem was that the guy had no idea how the song went.  He’d never even heard of it.   Out of sheer pity one of the ladies hummed it quietly to him to try and help him pick up the tune. 

It didn’t work.  Imagine this poor bum just standing there sheepishly humming an indecipherable melody as the sand ran out on the timer for our round. 

Remember that I said it was New Year’s Eve.   You know, Dick Clark, big shiny ball in Times Square, fireworks, etc?   And the song the guy had to hum?  Yep, you guessed it.  Auld Lang Syne! 

Yes, that Auld Lang Syne, the Auld Lang Syne that’s been sung at every New Year’s Eve party on the planet for the past three hundred years or so.    It’s like showing up Christmas morning with no idea how to sing Jingle Bells.

Needless to say we lost the game. 

Granted, few of us know the words to Auld Lang Syne or what the song’s actually about, but you should at least be able to hum it before you’re even allowed to enter a New Year’s Eve Party.   C’mon, it’s the New Year’s anthem, for crying out loud. 

But what is the song about anyway?   What are we singing about as we ring in the new year?    It’s actually a song about friendship, about having ties with people that mean something no matter how much you’re separated by geography or time. 

Should old acquaintance be forgot, the song asks?  The implied answer is no.  The song isn’t just talking about casual acquaintances.  It’s talking real friends with whom you share a significant history. 

Do you have friends like that, people who you can pick right up with even if you don’t see them for years?   These are the people you call when something big happens, when someone dies or your marriage is falling apart or it seems like the whole world has turned against you. 

The Bible says that a friend loves at all times and that a brother (or sister) is born for adversity.  It’s hard to predict what kinds of adversity will come our way in the new year, but we all need deep, spiritual friendships to help us weather whatever storms we may face. 

Friendships don’t come easily for me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need them.  What I don’t need is a million shallow associations.  What I do need are people who know me at a soul level, who are for me and believe in my potential to become who God wants me to be this side of heaven.  I also need people I can give to, sacrifice for and sacrificially love.  Otherwise I’ll spiral into self-absorption, living as if the world is all about me. 

As the old saying goes, the best way to make a friend is to be a friend.  That means reaching out to people around us who needs friends too.  It means taking time in our busy schedules to make a call, send a text or just invite someone over to hang out.  It means making ourselves available and vulnerable. 

This New Year’s Eve, even if we don’t know the words to Auld Lang Syne, and even if we can’t hum the tune, maybe we can still honor the intent of the song and begin to make some memories by gathering with friends old or new.   Will we settle for surface relationships in 2012 or will go for something deeper?  The answer to that question depends mostly on us.