The Fading Melody of Auld Lang Syne

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

It is memories of times like New Year’s Eve, when recollections of family and friends returns to remind me of simpler times. Of times when we cherished the moment of welcoming in a brand new year. Memories of all-night family gatherings, listening to tall tales of long-forgotten characters from our family album, told with passion and with loving tribute.


By Al Garcia

New Year’s Eve brings the end of another year.  I remembered my last New Year’s Eve, sitting in the glow of the silvery moon, and remembering family and old friends, as time marched on. 

I looked back to years gone by, and recalled the laughter and the joy of the gathering of our families on New Year’s Eves past.  Proud Mexican-American families, all with histories going back before the settlement of Texas, and the growth of the Valley along the Rio Grande to what it is today.

I remembered the ritual of New Year’s Eve in the Valley of long ago.  I recalled so well the outside weather, cold.  While the temperature inside was warm and rich with the scent of cinnamon and chocolate, not champagne and caviar.  After all, this was the Rio Grande Valley, not a metropolitan center like New York, San Francisco, or even such places as Dallas or San Antonio.  This is home to ranchers and farmers, laborers and caballeros.  Mostly descendants of Spaniards and Northern Mexico Indians.

I can still visualize old wood-frame homes outlined in the darkness of the cold New Year’s Eve – with frosted windows keeping out the cold, and children huddled by the kitchen stove, waiting for freshly made bunuelos -- a New Year’s Eve dessert tradition for us unsophisticated Mexican-American celebrants along the Rio Grande. 

It is memories of times like New Year’s Eve, when recollections of family and friends returns to remind me of simpler times.  Of times when we cherished the moment of welcoming in a brand new year.  Memories of all-night family gatherings, listening to tall tales of long-forgotten characters from our family album, told with passion and with loving tribute. 

I also remember how our New Year’s Eve gatherings did not have glitter, nor balloons dropping from the ceiling, or bands playing, while tuxedoed men, and women in ballroom gowns, danced on marbled floors, as the clock approached the midnight hour.  Instead, as midnight approached the banks of the Rio Grande, children were usually already sleeping on blankets spread on the living room floor, while Moms and Dads, and aunts and uncles, sat round the kitchen table drinking coffee and hot chocolate, and eating left over bunuelos that the children had missed, before finally being overtaken by the revelry of the night.  And, as the year slowly slipped away, I remember how the adults bade farewell ,and even good riddance, to auld lang syne, as they looked to the approaching tomorrow, and the new beginning of another year.

Amazing, how New Year’s Eve memories, in particular, return to haunt the images in my mind.  I keep thinking of so many moments of times before the clock struck twelve, now forever recorded in the recesses of my mind.  I recall the special people that shared the ending and the beginning with my parents and with me, before we went our separate ways, as the dawning of a new day and new year began to rise in the horizon.  And it is nights like that, when we remembered auld lang syne, and the laughter and the smiles, and the jokes and the stories of relatives now gone, but obviously not forgotten.  Not a night to shed tears for those that time had touched, but a night to reminisce about what they left behind – a part of themselves in each one of us.

Where have all my New Years gone?  I remember the many promises made but never kept.  And I remember the music in the night, of ringing church bells, and car horns honking, and men outside shooting rifles and pistols into the night. 

This last year, I could only hear the silence of the night, and I could only feel the loneliness of a heavy heart, betrayed by times gone by, as I listened to the melody of Auld Lang Syne being played and sung by strangers on the radio.  This last New Year’s Eve, my memories returned, and I was again enthralled by the prospect of a new beginning, and by all the things that might come to be, just like my parents dreamed once upon a time. 

Last New Year’s Eve, old acquaintances were brought to mind, and not forgot.  It was a night to dream of possibilities and probabilities, not to dwell on borders or walls, or children mistreated or crying, or dying.  It was the dawning of a new day, and with it, the promise of renewed compassion for our fellow man, and a restored understanding of the plight of those less fortunate than us.  However, like other years, auld lang syne brought with it the tears and fears of memories past – of family and friends gone to soon.  Of children used and abused for the sake of pride and arrogance, and even politics.  And of the threats and promises of oppression and intimidation by those that wield the reigns of power. 

This last New Year’s Eve promised a new beginning.  It brought the march of time that would take us to new heights, or bring us crashing down.  And I waited for when the clock struck twelve, to hear bells ringing and choirs singing, and maybe too, the heart of man begin to beat and feel again, the passion of living as it was meant to be.

Time marched on once again, as the clock struck midnight.  And already the year ahead portended to cast a shadow at the beginning of what should be a time to dream and hope, and a time to strive and thrive to build alliances and bridges between those that have, and those that only dream.  Instead, last New Year’s Eve, when the clock struck twelve, time stood still for too many of us.  If only we could return to our wood-frame homes, and stand around the kitchen stove and feel the warmth, and smell the aroma of freshly-baked bunuelos, and dream the dreams our parents wished for us on New Year’s Eves so long gone.  If only time could move us past the midnight hour, and into the brightness of tomorrow.

Instead, when once we waited with anticipation for the clock to strike the hour of twelve, this last New Year’s Eve many of us waited with unease and trepidation.  It was the midnight hour in more ways than not.  It was the hour of our awakening. 

When I was young and foolish, and my parent’s child, New Year’s Eve was the time to wish and dream and imagine the magic of this special night.  This last New Year’s Eve, there is no magic in the air.  Instead, it was a night to hope and pray that the lessons of our past, and the tears that have been shed, will not again be relived or experienced by those too young to remember, or those too old to forget.  Auld lang syne – a melody of memories, a symphony of our heart strings.

This last New Year’s Eve, oh how the flames of olden times returned to warm my heart and soul.  Oh, how I wished upon a star so far away, that its light would guide our way, when the darkness finally fades away.  I heard the soothing voices of our past, while I saw the turbulence and confusion that lies ahead.  And the clock kept on ticking, and the hours faded away.  Closer to the midnight hour we get.  Closer to our destiny.  And my words kept on coming, my thoughts kept on flowing, and my dreams kept on blooming, even under the darkening clouds of my despair. 

And, after all was said and done, I must admit that the year gone by, with its highs and many lows, did bring new memories to fill my heart and soul.  It renewed my faith and my appreciation for my fellow man.  It shined a light on the hidden bigotry, racism and hatred that lives within so many that we thought we knew so well.  The passing year reaffirmed my strength, my character and my empathy for my neighbors and my enemies.  I grew and I expanded my horizons and my heart.  I also saw people build walls around their hearts and souls, and I realized that they were people who could not see beyond the hate that helped to erect the abyss they feel and stroke with their words and deeds.  This is all a part of what I remembered this last New Year’s Eve. 

It’s already June.  How times flies and fades into our memories.  But still my unanswered thoughts and prayers and wishes of New Year’s Eve remain etched upon my mind – to see the lifting of the shadows and the darkness that threatens the harmony of the world that surrounds me.

And I hear the fading melody of Auld Lang Syne.

Submitted: June 19, 2021

© Copyright 2022 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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