I am resolute…

What good.001

The new year is fast-approaching and as many of you already know, I’m more of a non-resolution maker. Resolutions require willpower and tenacity and I have neither. 

To my Dad – a Scot and a man of deep faith – New Year’s traditions were very important.  At this time of year he always wanted us to pause and reflect on how we could make our world a better place, also on what we’d done well and what we could have done better during the past year.  We’d then talk about goals or intentions for how, individually and as a family, we could build on our efforts of the previous year.

And so I continue this ritual to honour my dad and because I loved him very dearly.

Hogmanay, with its unique customs, is largely considered by Scots to be at least as important a celebration as Christmas, if not more-so.  After all, dinnae ever forget that the sacred hymn was written by Rabbie himself!  

Hogmanay traditions never to be missed:

  1. First, a physical and symbolic act of  finishing the old year well.  Before any celebration may begin, the house must be thoroughly scrubbed from top to bottom on New Year’s Eve; and
  2. Making sure all outstanding debts are paid in full before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve; and
  3. Making and sharing a list of New Year’s resolutions; and
  4. Bakers (Dad included) always made a special cake called Black Bun, just for Hogmanay celebrations – a fruit cake, well-steeped in Scotch, and baked in a sweet shortcrust pastry (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!!!); and
  5. The singing of “Auld Lang Syne”.  Family, friends and neighbours  gather in a circle and link arms to sing.  As the last verse begins, everyone draws closer to the centre of the circle so that, without breaking the chain, everyone’s arms can be crossed over their own chests; and
  6. “Out with the old, in with the new.”  The gentleman of the house would dash out the back door (with seconds to spare before midnight) known as bidding farewell to the old year.  He’d then rush around to the front door and, when he heard the last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” bang furiously on the door to be welcomed in as the “New Year”; and
  7. First footing.  The first guest of the new year, ideally a tall, dark, and handsome man, would cross the threshold with small gifts signifying food (fruitcake or shortbread), drink (a tea bag and/or some Scotch),  wealth (a coin), warmth (a piece of coal) and love (perhaps a lace hankie in which the others would be wrapped).  In turn, the first footer is always welcomed with a wee dram (even in the mornings).

At this point in my life I have my own traditions, and ‘though resolutions are definitely not for me, I do pause during this last week of December for some soul-searching and planning – for Dad, yes, but also because I believe it enriches and brings greater meaning to my life.  And God knows my chaotic and messy life can use all of that!

From my reading and my reflections this week, one word and three pieces of advice keep whirring about in my brain:

  • Resolute: Adjective – admirably purposeful, determined, unwavering.
  • The holiday messages of our Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister, Premier and Mayor.
  • The Grands’ journals; the words of John Wesley (quoted frequently in their sermon notes) and a key question from a war-time sermon.
  • Benjamin Franklin’s credo.

This year in their respective messages, each of our leaders urged us to be resolute in our service to others, to give back to our communities and country, to help one another, to lend a hand in your own personal way to those who have less and those who are in need.* I’ve listened to and read each of these beautiful messages several times and know, with absolute certainty, I can do more and better.  I am resolute in my intention to do so.

“What good shall I do this day?”
[Benjamin Franklin]

Mr. Franklin wrote this call to action in his personal journals.  Historians and curators believe this statement reflects his resolute desire to be of service and to always keep his tenet front of mind.

One of Mr. Wesley’s most well-known quotes is:  

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”**

In the journals, Dad’s great uncle – The Very Reverend Gilleasbuig Storrie – penned a sermon to be delivered to his greatly diminished congregation during The Great War.  He cited Mr. Wesley’s advice, relating each line to the men and women – leaders, warriors and medicos alike – and their immense sacrifices.  The homily finished with a question:  What about you?  What are you going to do? 

Really, there’s nothing more to be gained from further introspection.  I have only one 2020 New Year’s resolution intention, beautifully phrased by Mr. Franklin:

What good shall

I’ve lettered this personal reminder and will be pinning it to the inside of our bathroom cabinet so that with every morning and evening’s ablutions, I will be reminded of my resolute aspiration to lend a hand in your my own personal way to those who have less and those who are in need.*

Peace to you.  Wishing you good health, safety and contentment throughout the coming year and decade.  Happy New Year 2020!

’Til next time, y’all…

*Julie Payette

**The Reverend John Wesley spearheaded the Methodist movement in the Anglican Church (Church of England).

Auld Lang Syne***
[Royal Scots Dragoon Guards]

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 dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Chorus

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.

Chorus

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.

Chorus

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

Chorus 

***Robert Burns (1759-1796)

“Auld Lang Syne” – the quintessential New Year’s ballad – was originally a poem, written by (or collated by, depending upon whom you choose to believe) by Rabbie, in his native language, eventually and perpetually sung to the tune of a favourite Scots folk song. 

2 thoughts on “I am resolute…

  1. Nancy says:

    I loved hearing about the Scots’ traditions! I also like the idea of being “resolute” and thinking about what good thing I will do this day.

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