Light and song to welcome a new year

The sun sets over Lake Tahoe, much as it will set tonight on 2020.

The sun sets over Lake Tahoe, much as it will set tonight on 2020.

On a recent neighborhood walk past Jerry and Irene Peterson’s house, I called out to Jerry and commented on the remarkable light displays they always set up in their yard for the holidays. The Petersons shared a wonderful story about a random act of kindness they received in response to this year’s festive decor.

Someone left a gift bag on the Peterson’s front porch that contained an anonymous note thanking them for the colorful display and expressing the delight their decorations brought to the giver’s family. The gift bag also included a Christmas ornament that spells out the word, “Joy.”

The Petersons take great pleasure in decorating for the holidays and have collected a unique and impressive array of sparkly Christmas-themed items. This year’s holiday display was featured on KTVN’s morning weather report with meteorologist Jeff Martinez.

In addition to the personal enjoyment the Petersons derive from the lights, they also decorate as a way to bring happiness to the whole neighborhood. Stop by to see their outdoor display through New Year’s Day at 1008 Silveranch Drive in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

During this home-based holiday season, my family has frequently settled in to take advantage of numerous Christmas-themed movie offerings on TV. It’s become somewhat of an evening ritual and we’ve enjoyed alternating between classic and contemporary films over the past several weeks.

A couple of these films feature renditions of the song, Auld Lang Syne, and I got to thinking about this perplexing tune that’s often sung on New Year’s Eve.

The melody is unmistakable, but the lyrics to this song have long eluded me. I’m able to sing along with the first two lines but after that, it’s been a matter of humbling (hum + mumbling) my way through the rest.

The words to Auld Lang Syne are attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns, who penned them in 1788. Translated from Scots language into English, the song’s title literally means “Old Long Since.” Encyclopedia Britannica ( says this “can be interpreted as ‘since long ago’ or ‘for old times’ sake.’”

The translated verses convey a couple of friends having a drink and reminiscing about days gone by. The chorus repeats after each verse.

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And old lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

And surely I’ll buy mine!

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,

And picked the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

Since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give me a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

For auld lang syne.

As the sun sets on this most vexing and incomparable year, we can perhaps draw inspiration from Burns’ words and raise a glass to friendship, to kindness, to weathering storms, and to the hope that we’ll soon be together with the ones we hold dear.

Be safe and well this New Year’s Eve, and may 2021 be bright with the promise of days to come.

Amy Roby can be reached at


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