January 1 is the day I must observe certain rituals.
1. Eat at least two spoons filled with black-eyed peas. Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is considered lucky, as in the old saying, “Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat the rest of the year”. Because my mother and grandmother always followed this tradition, so do I, even though the peas taste remarkably like dirt. Note that immense amounts of seasoning can disguise their flavor and make eating them almost palatable.
2. Resolve to organize, economize, and simplify. Apparently, I’m not alone. Look at the ads currently bombarding us to buy storage containers, get rid of processed foods, and bring order to our financial houses. The only thing not on my list is a fitness program. I figure by the time I’ve economized, organized, and simplified, I’ll have become sufficiently exercised, too.
3. Finally, I flip page by page through my trusty paper calendar, and record all the important dates into a new monthly calendar. That’s right. In a world where most people rely on electronic calendars thoughtfully provided on every cell phone and computer in existence, I march out the day after Christmas to pick up my bargain half-price paper calendar. The pages look inviting as a wrapped gift under the Christmas tree. Oh, the possibilities of 365 brand new days!
Using calendars isn’t a modern concept. Even the ancients needed a way to track time. Between 2004 and 2006, archaeologists discovered what may be the world’s oldest calendar in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Dating from over 10,000 years ago, a group of twelve pits appear to align with the phases of the moon, and were likely created as a way to help hunter-gatherers better follow the passage of days and changing seasons.
I understand. My own life would be pretty confusing without the reminders provided by a calendar. And browsing through a full year of events leads to my absolute favorite New Year’s Day activity.
Reading the scribbled notes is a lot like reading a journal. A map of one year in my life. Remember that surprise birthday party? What a blast. We’ve been married how many years? Wow. Our son’s and daughter’s wedding anniversaries. They’re both hard-working and happy. The birth of our first grandchild. Such joy. Our yearly family pilgrimage to Rockbridge. We discovered a fun new place to stay. Doctor appointments. Ugh, guess it’s time to schedule that check-up (yes and one for Winston and Bogey, too). A writing conference, a contract, a few contest wins.
There were some tragic events, too, marked by funerals and celebrations of life. Family members and friends who left us too soon. Yet still I realize that overall, we were blessed in 2016.
While I transfer each important date into crisp clean new pages, hope abounds that my calendar will soon be filled with many events to make me smile when I review them on January 1, 2018.
And I wish you the same pleasant fate. Happy New Year!
What are your special January 1 traditions?