It Is All About the Song…
In the Days of Auld Lang Syne

It has been three weeks since my granddaughters sung Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve at the Nyaung Shwe Restaurant. Their singing the song that Bobby Burns wrote in 1788 is our family’s theme song.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
In the days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For the sake of auld lang syne.

And surely you will buy your cup!
And surely I'll be mine!
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For the sake of auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till night;
The seas between us Lord and swell
Since the days of auld lang syne.

For old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
For the sake of auld lang syne?

I’m haunted by the lyrics. Now, Bobby Burns wrote the lyrics in his own Ayrshire dialect, which most people cannot comprehend much of his famous poem.

An early letter from Bobby Burn sending a friend a copy of Auld Lang Syne

Additionally, English speaking people have changed the lyrics to some more up to date words in the past two centuries plus since Burns penned the words. Beyond that, stanzas have been completely deleted over time. To add to this quandary, various singers have added and deleted various versions also.

Nevertheless, my granddaughters in Myanmar have canonized their version sang by Rod Stewart at Sterling Castle in Scotland a half dozen years ago. His version of Bobby Burn’s Auld Lang Syne is our official rendition of the lyrics.

Beyond the canonization issue, what does Auld Lang Syne mean in translation? There are all sorts of translations from long ago, days gone by, long long ago, or different versions or combinations.

This essay is posted on my website on January 20th, which is my 77th birthday. I hope that I will be able to have my three granddaughters sing Auld Lang Syne on many New Year’s Eves some of which I will be present at the Nyaung Shwe Restaurant.

However, having done two successful dances with death, I am fully aware of the reality that my clock is ticking. Sometime, hopefully, years from now, I won’t be around. When that time comes, what will they remember about PaPa Al or as the youngest one calls me, Bo Bo Gyi?

Since I am looking into the future, I can’t honestly know what they recall of our times together in the past half dozen years. However, I hope they remember that there was a guy who saw value in them as a part of my family and as individuals. Each of them were very intelligent. I hope that they remember my hopes for them in school as the prepare for their adult lives.

Beyond their academic abilities, they are loving and caring. Over those years that I have visited them and their parents in Myanmar, their love was expressed in various ways. Sometimes, it was quiet, and other times it was conveyed for anyone to see.

Additionally, we laughed together and had fun as we explored places around their home and at places we traveled together miles from their home.

I hope that they remember floating in a balloon above the Buddhist shrines, pagodas, and stupas of Bagan.

Beyond seeing UNESCO’s World Heritage Site from a different perspective, I hope that I had helped them to see all of life from an equally different perspective.

Those three grandchildren have much to overcome as they grow older, but, for those moments of time we spent together, I hope that they remember that I saw each of them with potential to become more than they could even imagine or wish to be. I know that their dreams can be realized even if they, on occasion, might doubt some of them as they journey down their yellow brick roads of life.

Finally, I hope that they will remember that the stranger from the other side of the world loved to laugh and giggle with them as we played games, took walks, and ate together as a family. As long as I am alive, I will remember, or as Bobby Burns wrote, “for the sake of auld lang syne.”