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Oh, it’s inevitable. On New Year’s Eve the countdown and smack of lips give way to a quiet, uncertain mumble. Your friends trail off. At the stroke of midnight your party hesitantly (if you’re like most) sings Auld Lang Syne. Neither the champagne nor the late hour is to blame.
Precious few know the words to this rarely heard song. And they certainly don’t know what it means. But Auld Lang Syne has a special altruistic message that informs our approach to philanthropy. Perhaps it will inspire your charitable endeavors in 2013 as well.
In 1788 Robert Burns wrote the Scotts poem Auld Lang Syne to the tune of a Scottish folk song. In English the first line means, loosely, “for the sake of old times.” Burns’ poem is an important reminder not to forsake old friendships. Beginning the New Year singing of our old friends would be a grand start to a year dedicated to outreach and personal connection.
Consider how much better you feel after a long talk with an old friend. You can offload your worries to one another, encourage each other and reminisce about past years you both miss.
Some people are more isolated than others—whether language barriers complicate meeting new people or because they are new in town. Open yourself up to them. You could be an important personal connection your new friend desperately needs. Just think—down the road you may sing Auld Lang Syne in honor of the friends you made in 2013.
Old New Friends
Language and relocation aren’t the only things that make people in your community feel lost or disconnected. The sick and the elderly are especially at risk for loneliness. Especially during the holidays, the quiet of the nursing home or hospital bed can be unbearable. So visit a nursing home regularly. Write a letter to your out-of-state grandparents. Visit family members who are sick, or become a hospital volunteer.
In Auld Lang Syne Burns writes, “Since thoughts of thee doth banish grief, when from thee I am gone; will not thy presence yield relief, to this sad Heart of mine.” We hope Burns’ lyrics inspire your New Year.
Resolve to take care of the people around you, so that you can banish grief and cheer sad hearts.