Here it is New Year’s Day and I am ready for it. The Christmas decorations are down. Being a southerner by birth and upbringing, I subscribe to the tradition and superstition that it is bad luck to have a tree up on New Year’s Day. The last few years I have not been steadfast to this tradition, and have found myself with some lousy luck! So this year, I am playing by the rules. We may be the only house in the neighborhood without even a wreath on the door, but when Christmas is over, it is over. Never-mind that the reason for the tradition was probably that if you left your live tree up too long, it would turn into a brittle, fire-hazard of a dead tree and spontaneously engulf you and your house in flames just because you were stupid enough to attach a lighted candle to the tree.
As a child, we always had pork roast to eat on New Year’s Day, along with black-eyed peas. We really were supposed to eat hog jowl and it was ever present. Being a small child with no appreciation for yucky things, I only had the merest taste of hog jowl each year – just enough to ensure my good luck.
Over the years, this family feast has evolved to be almost there with Christmas in terms of the specifics of the meal. The pork roast is still there; the hog jowl is long ago dismissed as being silly and besides – where on earth would I find hog jowl in the state of Maryland? Certainly not in my local grocery store. We still have black-eyed peas, although they come from a can, rather than dried and in a bag. I have added my mother’s macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, and waldorf salad. Strangely enough, this same menu works for the 4th of July as well.
I come from a family of non-sports lovers. My parents would go to an occasional football game – well, in Birmingham, Alabama, that was what you did – a social thing, but not a passion – at least not for them. Of course, everybody knows that New Year’s Day features football. We made a point of never watching football on TV – especially not on New Year’s Day. Instead we gathered with family and friends (only those rare few for whom football has no special place on New Year’s Day).
Fortunately, I married a man without an interest in sports. So he indulges my little New Year’s Day ritual meal. It is, after all, a homecooked meal and he approves of the menu. My son and his family aren’t big on sports either, so it appears to be no great sacrifice for them to join us for this traditional meal.
Each year I make the same resolutions. Each year, within a few weeks, I have broken the same resolutions. It does get a little boring! Life comes along and sabotages all my good intentions. This year WILL be different….really it will! This will be the year I lose weight, make a lot of money, keep an immaculate house, spend ½ hour a day in quiet contemplation, and keep up with the ironing! And I really, really mean it!