Auld Years Night and Hogmanay

31 Dec 2019

An ever-increasing phrase I hear is "what are you doing for New Years?". It seems synonymous with glitz, fizz, sequins and noise, the aim to be bigger and 'better' than ever before. The next day, we are to sanitise it away and reinvent ourselves. Here in my little bit of Scotland I cling to the old way. The last day of the year is still referred to in some snugs as "Auld Years Night" and more frequently "Hogmanay". Traditionally, we would visit family and neighbours, really only those within walking distance. Nobody did more than tidy up a bit and put out some shortbread as everyone brought their own bottle to carry from home to home, sharing. We would visit 'before the bells' and stop in the house as midnight strikes or stay at home until 'after the bells' and await the 'first foot'. If there was a newly moved in neighbour, then they especially should not leave their house after midnight. Someone had to be the first foot inside the new year to cross their threshold and give a lump of coal (so their fire would always burn) and a thick wedge of black bun a rich, black, heavy fruit cake (so their larder would never be bare). If it was brought in by a tall, dark, man it was best luck. The sharing of nips (a measure of whisky) from carried bottles would go on until dawn. Even now, I still shove my willing son outside the front door at five to midnight, where he stands chittering with a box of mince pies or similar so he can knock the door, be our first foot and bring the luck.

I adore these traditions. I adore the fairy lights. I adore the thoughts of curling up with a good film in daylight hours and a doze on the couch. But as a child I would often wander from the room of grown ups' ever rising volume of voices, layers of noise, cigarette smoke and drinks and think I was just too young to understand the fun. As a teenager the same. As a twenty something I felt I should be part of it. As a thirty something it was endured. Now as a forty something I have long since given myself permission to step aside. I'll dip in fully and then I'll dip out and no longer feel guilt for needing a different kind of experience.

Guilt. It can be a big one for those of us who wrestle with keeping our wayward mental health inside the lines. Do you need any more guilt? I've said it before with different words and I hate to repeat myself. But I will. Unless it is truly what you need and truly what works, resist the pressure to become a new you overnight. Resist the marketing of brand-new habits, split sharp routines and zippy kit to get you wired for... well, to become more you. Surely you are pretty grand precisely the way you are. Perhaps you have a few bits here and there which you tend to, or know you need to tend to when the moment is right, but otherwise you are just exactly as you are meant to be.

They can stuff their "New Years" jiggly schmiggly lights, cameras and action fitness maxi-micro consummation and they can accept a gentle fare thee weel to the year gone and a gentle welcome to the one dawning. They won't take me prisoner. I resolve only to do it just the same as I ever will. Walk with me?

I'll enjoy walking it with you. My hand as ever is yours. And I thank you for being my steady.

Love from

The room above the garage

A Moodscope member.

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