Forty-three years ago, I was preparing to celebrate my third and last Hogmanay in Scotland, an event that is celebrated as widely as Christmas in that country.
For those of you not familiar with Hogmanay, it is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the New Year’s Eve celebration that lasts until the next morning. It is an experience you never forget nor never totally remember.
For a little perspective, four decades ago the western industrial world was still in the grip of an Arab oil embargo. Many Americans were still sitting in lines to buy gas and the price of that commodity was beginning its steady rise that led to the 1973-74 stock market crash. Prices of oil helped fuel hyperinflation for the remainder of the 1970’s.
However, the U.S. national debt was still below one trillion dollars and would not breach that benchmark until seven years later with the economic policies of Ronald Reagan and the total lack of fiscal discipline in Washington since.
Watergate was still much in the news and Richard Nixon was in his downward spiral which ended eight months later when he became the only American president to resign from office.
Scotland and the entire United Kingdom would shortly experience a second coal strike in three years, which would lead to a general election and the downfall of the government of Prime Minister Edward Heath, but also to the eventual rise of Margaret Thatcher five years later.
And the Soviet Union was still perceived to be a colossus threatening world peace while China was not far removed from its Cultural Revolution, its backyard steel furnaces and its ‘Great Leap Backward.’
Much has changed in the intervening forty plus years, but those changes are a mere microcosm of the changes in the world since the Scottish poet Robert (Rabbie) Burns wrote his Hogmanay and New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne” in 1788.
May you all have a blessed, prosperous and Happy New Year in 2017.