New Year’s Day traditions

I’ve spent this first day of 2005 observing a number of personal, family and national traditions.

On the personal level, I began the day at the computer, as I always do, going through my first few cups of coffee, but this year I got to add something to the routine that I haven’t had in other New Year’s Days of the past. I spent about an hour on a Skype call with Paul in Berlin. I experimented with trying to record at least his side of our conversation, but I discovered that it caused his voice to echo back to him and that produced a period of several minutes where neither of us could figure out what was causing the problem. Eventually, I realized that my actions were causing it, so I turned off the recorder and our conversation returned to the normal excellent quality that Skype offers. Paul and I have been talking each morning at 7:00 AM here in Knoxville and 1:00 PM in Berlin. I’ve enjoyed having the ability to call him and keep up with what is happening in his life each day. And so far, he seems to appreciate the opportunity too, so we’ll continue until one or both of us tire of it.

The family tradition that I observed today was that I cooked black-eyed peas, rice, turnip greens and cornbread for lunch, and Mike came over and shared the meal with me. If you grew up in the South as I did, perhaps you are aware of the superstition that you are supposed to have this meal on New Year’s Day to ensure that you would have wealth in the coming year. So both Mike and I ate big helpings of this traditional southern meal (not wanting to tempt fate and risk having a lean year financially), and it was really quite good. In the last few years, I haven’t cooked these things and we’ve had to scramble to find a restaurant that was serving it. This year I chose to avoid the hassle of having to locate a restaurant and just cook it myself. Mike even brought over some country ham that someone had given him at work, and we cooked up some of that too. (I plan to cook some biscuits tomorrow morning and have ham biscuits for breakfast.) Of course, we also had big glasses of sweetened iced tea to wash everything down with, which is another southern tradition.

And finally, I satiated myself on four or five televised football games this afternoon and evening. I was pleased that Tennessee and Georgia won their games, but the really terrific games were the Iowa and Texas wins in their games, both of which were won on the last play of the game. Iowa beat LSU and Texas beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. In this one day, you’d think I would have gotten enough football to last me for a year, but like most male Americans I’ll still be hooked on football until they play the Super Bowl in late January. Then I’ll be able to put it aside until next September.

One tradition (or superstition) from my upbringing that I did not uphold this year was that I did a load of washing today. And I didn’t think about the taboo that my mother drilled into me as I was growing up until it was too late and I had already started the load of washing. That taboo was that you should never wash clothes on New Year’s Day because that would mean someone in your family would die during the year. I certainly hope that I haven’t signed my own, or some family member’s death warrant by slipping up and doing a load of clothes today, but I guess only time will tell about that.

So that’s how I spent my New Year’s Day this year. I hope you observed your own traditions and that you got the year off to a good start in your own unique way. Do you have traditions or superstitions such as my family’s about New Year’s Day? If so, leave me a comment and tell me what they are.

In any event, Happy New Year everybody! I hope 2005 is a very good year for you.


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