Thursday, December 31, 2015

Auld Lang Syne

A couple of books sit among a bevy of family photographs in my dining room. They have been part of my decor for nearly 20 years now, and, like most things we become familiar with, I haven't really given them a lot of thought for awhile now.

When we were sorting belongings after my mother-in-law's death, the two little books caught my eye, and, when no one else was clamoring for them, I brought them home.
One is called the Auld Lang Syne Birthday Book. There is no copyright, but it says that Marie Esther Ritts was given the book on June 3, 1942, in Springfield, Ohio, and, in parenthesis, it says, "Conference." I wonder if it was a gift at a Methodist annual conference, since Marie's dad, Alvin, was a Methodist pastor. She would only have been 10 years old at the time.
It's a birthday book with spaces to write down the birthdays of friends and family. Each page has a quote from poet Robert Burns. (Did you realize he wrote the lyrics for Auld Lang Syne? I didn't until I started looking for information about the book!)

The words "Auld Lang Syne' literally translates from old Scottish dialect, meaning, 'Old Long Ago.' It's about love and friendship in times past. The 'Auld Lang Syne' lyrics were first published in 1787, and the song has now become a tradition as we celebrate a new year.
I looked for information about the little book online, but didn't come up with any additional tidbits about it. For me, the value is in seeing important family dates written in Marie's hand. In the back of the book, she also has a Post-It note, where she remembered family collections. (Dana Fritzemeier collected keychains and bookmarks, and Wanda Morrison collected pigs, back when Marie made the notations.)

I wish she had lived long enough to write the names of other family members in the birthday book. She would have loved watching her grandchildren grow up and she would be over the moon with two little great-granddaughters.
The other book is titled, "Forget Me Not," but its purpose was the same. It originally belonged to Marie's mother, Laura Ritts. No copyright gives a clue to its age, but the binding is falling apart and the yellowed pages are fragile. When searching online, I found a copy of it on Worthpoint. The book is by Rev. Hugo W. Hoffman, Brooklyn, N. Y. There are 384 pages with a Bible verse and quote for each day of the year.

Each of the books has the two women's handwriting. Marie's is familiar to me. Laura's is not. By the time I met Laura, she was already fading into dementia, so I didn't have the benefit of knowing her in her prime. But her legacy was there in the family ties with her daughters and her grandchildren.

This poem was in the preface of the book:

... Images on this cold surface traced
Make slight impression and are soon effaced
But we've a page, more glowing and more bright
On which our friendship and our love to write
That these may never from the soul depart
We trust them to the memory of the heart
There is no dimming, no effacement there
Each new pulsation keeps the record clear
Warm, golden letters all the tablet fill
Nor lose their luster till the heart stands still. 
As we turn the page for another year, it's good to remember that legacy but also to look forward to new challenges and blessings and writing new friends and family members in the book of life.

The verse on the January 1 page says: 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 
Hebrews 13:8 

And the accompanying verse says,
"The opening year, Thy mercy shows; 
Let mercy crown it, till it close." 

That sounds like a good plan to me. Happy New Year to you and yours!


  1. Kim, You need to continue writing in Marie's book. What a treasure it will be for your grandchildren. Happy New Year and thank you for your blog. Mary Jane Hawver McEntire

    1. Thank you, Mary Jane! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. What treasures to have in your possession. They are family heirlooms.
    Happy New Year Kim!

  3. What a neat family treasure, Kim! I wish you and Randy the very best in 2016! Happy New Year!

  4. Kim, what a wonderful post! I was drawn in by the picture since I have a weakness for old books, and what a blessing to see that Marie noted my childhood collections! That was a special hug for me the day I read this, and it brought back memories of both Laura and Marie. What a special lady!

    1. I'm glad it brought back good memories, Dana!

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