a cup of kindness

It’s just after three and the sun is already sliding down beyond the trees. It’s lovely, though — like old faded gold. And the hard frost has rimed every surface with silver. Our house is quiet after 12 days of festivity, beginning with John’s birthday on the 19th, Cristen’s on the 21st, and Sahand’s on the 24th, followed by Christmas itself. I have to confess that not all of us were celebrating together for the whole time as we were gifted with a Norovirus (I’m looking at you, Kelly!) and it made its merry way through the household, some of us suffering more than others but no one was immune. I wouldn’t have passed up the opportunity to make meals for my loved ones, though, even knowing what I know now about sleeplessness, nausea, and aches in every joint and muscle. And yes, wine was consumed (many bottles of it); so was shortbread, white chocolate fruit cake, gingerbread, nuts, trifle, Turkish delight, any number of kinds of chocolates, and little glasses of Carolan’s Irish Cream. A turkey. A duck. Lamb made into Khoresh Gheymeh and served with Zeytoon Parvardeh (a wonderful green olive, walnut, and pomegranate salad). Flourless chocolate torte as a group birthday cake. No one went hungry.

We are spending New Years Eve alone. The two of us. We don’t feel strong enough to go out into the world and make merry. The others left, one car after another loaded down with presents, luggage, a baby clutching her dolly, and two cats in their carriers. We’re promised a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis tonight, if we stay awake long enough, and there’s still enough food for the Russian army (though maybe we don’t want to feed them at this point in human history), and one last bottle of Prosecco if we feel like toasting the turn of the year.

New Years Eve always makes me wistful. How did a year pass without me noticing, without me keeping up with the things I’d hoped to accomplish. How did the years accumulate so that we are now anticipating 2016 — oh, and I’ve only just become accustomed to beginning writing a date with 20– instead of 19–. I thought I’d have the whole house clean in readiness for the new year. My mother was raised in a Scots Presbyterian house and believed that it was bad luck to take the old year’s clutter and dust into the new. I began the day with good intentions, after waving goodbye to those driving away this morning. I disinfected the bathrooms and the two rooms where most of the sickness took place, washing three loads of bed-linens, hanging much of it out on the clothes line to freeze any residual bugs, and took out several bags of trash. But the rest of the house? Hmmm. My study is what my Yorkshire mother-in-law would have called a “tip”. Baskets of wrapping papers and bags of ribbons (all to save for next year, of course!), stacks of research materials, piles of books, some packages of seeds I meant to do something with (I can’t remember what), oh, and family photographs I’ve been meaning to scan, though looking at them is like a trick of light, whoosh, everything happening at once, time and the years burning as brightly as the fir in our woodstove, the heat lasting almost a whole night. The heat, the images so sweetly warm, the faces as beautiful as the sun is this very minute, soft and golden, filtering through the branches of the trees like memory.

So I wish you all a very happy New Year, filled with good health and sweetness, and I hope you get to hear someone sing that most beautiful of Robert Burns’s poems, set to music:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.

As for me, I’ll be listening while I look at old photographs, remembering not two but three young children running in the grass at Nicola Lake summer after summer, never imagining them grown. And now gone.

at Nicola Lakebrendan at Nicola Lake

 

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~ by theresakishkan on December 31, 2015.

2 Responses to “a cup of kindness”

  1. Sad and beautiful, Theresa – but I’m sorry to read that you were all sick. It is a most fraught time of year and though I love the get-togethers, feasting and celebrations, I will seriously consider fleeing it all one year. I have a friend in his late seventies who goes to a monastery somewhere in the southwest of the USA for two weeks every mid-December, and I understand him better now, as I too begin to pick up the pieces and regroup after the festivities.

    Happy 2016 to you and yours.

  2. I love the season but somehow the diseases hit hard when one is excited, sleep-deprived, busy…And there’s always (for me, anyway) the sense of an ending when those who’ve come to share the holiday leave, beyond what’s reasonable really! So the poignant pentatonic Auld Lang Syne sounds a particilarly lonely note(s). Burns is under-appreciated most of the time, I think, but comes into his own on New Years Eve!

    Happy New Year to you and your family, Beth!

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