The evening wouldn’t be proper without hearing the tune Auld Lang Syne, to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight. Every year I have to look it up because I have forgotten the meaning. Originally a poem penned by Scottish bard and lyricist Robert Burns in 1788, the song’s title may be translated into our modern-day English as “long, long ago,” “days gone by” or “for the sake of old times.” The familiar first four lines pose a rhetorical question:

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

Starting in 1929, renowned bandleader Guy Lombardo and his orchestra performed undoubtedly the most recognizable version of the song on New Year’s Eve for decades. Search for it on Spotify. It sounds like a funeral dirge. Maybe because we are in mourning for the end of the year? Putting it to bed for the last time so to speak. For whatever reason, hearing it and thinking about closing yet another annual chapter of my life always makes me more sad than festive.

Don’t get me wrong. In my younger days, I was guilty of my fair share of shameless debauchery in celebrating the evening away into mindless oblivion, with regrettable results. Of course my first resolution the following day was always, “I’ll never do that again.”

So hours before and after the ball drops in Times Square, there will be millions of folks reveling around the world. Lots of merriment and cheer. Truth is, that will probably go out the window or down the toilet tomorrow, when normalcy dawns with an aggressive hangover headache.

I’ve nothing against partying – within legal, healthy physical and emotional limits, of course. But I guess in finally aging into responsible maturity I have found other ways to express a sensinew-years-eve-clockble sense of rowdiness. I’ve no need to blow up leftover Fourth of July M-80s or to fire gunshots into the below-freezing midnight sky. Go ahead. Do it if you have to.

But the wife and I plan to spend the final hours of 2016 in relative comfort in the sanctuary of our home. First we’ll enjoy a home-cooked, medium-rare prime rib and all the fixins dinner. I may even crack open an ice cold can of Sam Adams Winter Lager (Santa left me a 12-pack). Afterwards I will probably spend some time in the easy chair reviewing the year in quiet meditation. Last January, the Lord presented me with a challenge to be more resourceful and deliberate with my time, to make what I do with my life count, and especially to have an encouraging, inspirational impact on other men for the kingdom of God. I will ask Him how I did.

Before the midnight hour though, I will probably doze off and miss the dessert round of a taped episode of the Food Network’s Chopped. When the fireworks go off around the neighborhood, the dog will bark, and the wife and I will wake up to a new year – to be thankful for each other, our health and well being, our family, for old acquaintances never to be forgotten, and joining in with the aged poet, “We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

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