• Carol Stobie

A Hogmanay Evolution

“Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do so with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”Og Mandino

Shortly before each Hogmanay, like many other folk, I’ve set myself over-ambitious targets for the year to come - then failed in nearly every one.

Becoming a celebrant is subtly reshaping my perspective on this. So do conversations with friends, as we get older.

At Hogmanay, a group of us (many friendships dating back to the early 1980s, now with added partners, children and/or dogs) gathered in a cosy house to share meals, take walks, play games, sing songs and reminisce round the fire. Like any group of Scots (and others) at such a time, we recalled and spoke fervently of those who’d once been part of our circle and are now hugely missed, of others too unwell to join us and of those we might never even see again.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the resolutions for the year to come. Instead, we could make a promise to keep that focus on friendship, schedule more of those nurturing and playful times, record those tributes to one another (spontaneous or planned). To capture one another’s stories, to record treasured moments, to celebrate and honour one another. For some, it may that we’ve learnt we haven’t as long to live as we’d hoped. Or perhaps we’re moved to record our life stories, the tales and lessons learnt, for the sake of our own failing memories (speaking for myself), our children, our likeminded friends - before those insights fade.

I wondered what to draw on for my new ‘celebrant blog’. It hit me that I compiled pre-digital scrapbooks for many years, and still love them. I revisit those university mementoes, the galvanising copied-out quotations, the tear-inducing Christmas cards glued in at New Year 1991.

Those quotations arrest and comfort even now. Many card signatories are long gone. Did I tell them what they’d meant to me before it was too late? Typically, it’s at the funeral that we tell one another how cherished that person was. Mind you, in some cases nowadays, we might find ourselves participating in a ‘living funeral - an increasingly popular custom which celebrants and/or others might lead, at which the person we honour (perhaps terminally ill) is still able to participate.

And so, let’s wish one another a Happy New Year - keep doing that well into 2019, in the knowledge that we need to treasure one another out loud and be a wee bit kinder to ourselves. We can set all the other goals we want, but God may be laughing at our plans – for who knows what the year will bring? The wi-fi may wobble, the power may go out, we may get snowed in - but the love remains.

Loch of Lintrathen, Angus, Scotland, by Neil McIlwraith

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