Back when I was about ten years old, we’d arrived in early December and the days were moving slowly on. My mind was filled with upcoming Christmas presents, and I was looking forward to having my electric train running again. When I came down on Christmas morning, the platform would be back, with its houses in place. Pure magic. My parents took me to center city where Santa Claus assured me he would arrive on time. I wasn’t sure how he got into the house since we didn’t have a fireplace, but that was only a detail. I mentioned to my mom that I wished we could get quickly through the next couple of weeks. December was always, in those years, a long walk.
My mom replied with probably as memorable a comment that I ever heard: “You’re wishing your life away.” In those years I thought I was immortal. The average American lived into his or her mid-sixties. And at that age it seemed like an eternity away.
I’m not sure that I got the point at the time, but the message has stayed with me. Live in the moment. Enjoy the present, embrace friends and family while you can, and be aware that the New Year celebration is not about moving into the next year. “Auld Lang Syne” is about looking back and remembering old times. January 1 is a signal to reflect on where we’ve been and on all who have mattered during our lives. Live in the moment. The New Year will take care of itself.