Auld Lang Syne

This song stirs me.

My first thought goes directly to the last scene of Its A Wonderful Life, wherein the crowd of friends and family and even bankers all gathered to celebrate the new year and the fact that Jimmy Stewart's character is still alive are gladly singing the timeless melody and swaying their champagne flutes, and the little girl makes the comment about bells and angels getting their wings and then the viewers realize that the angel who just got his wings is Clarence.

This reminds me of my childhood. How my mom always makes us sit together and watch the movie when it comes on NBC only once a year. How excited she gets. How my Dad pretends to be uninterested and clangs around in the kitchen doing the dishes while we are all gathered together watching and laughing and everyone yells DAD!! all at the same time because we are in the middle of the part where Jimmy Stewart meets his wife at the library but she doesn't recognize him because it's some other dimension of time where he gets a glimpse at what would really have happened had he not been born.

Somehow I think my dad always gets a kick out of that.

But then I listen to the actual lyrics, which people do not often listen to - especially with these classic old tunes that are only sung loudly and in unison and drunk and cold and most people are making out because its new years eve, but the lyrics really do speak volumes.

It's a song about life, troubles, difficulty, and old friends, and old memories.

It's about broken relationships, old girlfriends, old teachers, holding hands in the seventh grade, staying up late at night talking on the phone. It's about kindness. It's about being kind to one another because we all remember good old times that are broken and fading in our minds, but want them to remain no matter how futile the effort.

Standing in a room of people singing this song doesn't really happen often (or ever), and no one really knows the words, and no one is really ever that sentimental, especially when half drunk. Or fully drunk.

But we all wish we were that sentimental. We all wish we didn't need to get drunk. We all wish we could put our arms around each other, totally sober, clear eyed and crying, and sing these words into each others eyes with all honesty and truth and love. Glancing around the room and smiling at all the people who mutually love and forgive each other for everything.

I'll not write out the lyrics here, because I want people to listen to them for themselves, and find that they sing them alone in the car on their way home from work. Quietly wondering if they will ever have one of these moments with their very own loved ones around the Christmas tree and the piano and the eggnog bowl, with the snow coming in the door in bursts along with the late comers whose cars don't have front wheel drive or chains on the tires.

Walking In a Winter Wonderland

While this is not literally true, I am satisfied that it is at least figuratively true.Listening to James Taylor's Christmas CD right now, and I am not ashamed to say it. What is so great about rejecting the Christmas spirit until the week before Christmas? I'll take it right now, and I wish it lasted much longer.

Anyway, I am listening to the CD, sitting in my pajamas, drinking coffee, sockless, working on pictures, and I noticed an amazing line in the song "Walking In a Winter Wonderland"

Later on, we'll conspire as we dream by the fire

and face, unafraid, the plans that we've made

So amazing. What a clear and focused line. It is amazing to lie around with your girl, dreaming by a fire and talking about future plans. When we were in Guatemala, living in the mountains, it was always cold at night and we had a fire burning and crackling in the fireplace just about every single night. There was never anything on TV, and it was all in Spanish anyway, so we would just sit in front of the fire and read, or journal, or stare at the flames. Snuggled up with a blanket in a dimly lit room in the early months of our relationship, those first few months where you are absolutely drunk in love, when we were just barely starting to talk about the insane, far-off possibility of actually being married, we'd sit and dream about what our life might be like together. The dream life. The best possible things you can imagine.

That's one thing.

And then to face, unafraid, the plans that you've made?

Well, that's a whole 'nother thing.

The most exciting thing, perhaps. Just planning and thinking and dreaming is fun, especially with a person that you would secretly do anything to spend the rest of your life with, but to then look at each other and in all seriousness say,

Let's do it.

Man. That's where real life is. That's where it lives.

Step out and do it. Don't be all talk. Face, unafraid, the plans that you've made.

So exciting. Such a thrill. The possibility of making your future exactly how you planned it out, instead of just letting it happen to you, letting it fall out of on the table wherever it falls.

You do it. You make it happen.

What a great song. So clear, so perfect, so hopeful and exciting.

So fun.

Thanks James, for singing it. Thanks Jesus, for making it possible.

Glory glory.