Pat Wahler

Penning stories to savor.

New Year, New Possibilities

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.

Image from BBC News. The ancients were far better at understanding what this means than I am. 

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.

The pristine pages of my new calendar, soon to become a colorful life map.

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?

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  1. Pat, I am old school and need my printed calendar pages to organize my days. Yes, I have alot of ‘carryovers’ from 2016. Hopefully, I will check those off my list!

    • Pat Wahler

      January 2, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Hi Sheree!

      There’s something quite comforting about having a calendar I can hold in my hands and flip through the pages. As a bonus it never runs low on batteries or crashes!

  2. Pat–No black-eyed peas yesterday, so I hope I have good luck this year in spite of that mistake.

    On New Year’s Eve I avoid the pickled herring. It’s given me good luck for the last couple of years.

    I hope to see your historical novel get snapped up by a publisher in 2017.

    • Pat Wahler

      January 2, 2017 at 11:42 am

      Hi Sioux!

      Herring is not on my list, although some in my family love it served in cream sauce. In my opinion, there’s simply no amount of cream that can make herring taste good.

      I’ve got some new publishing ideas for this year that I’m kind of excited about. We’ll see how they pan out. Reading your blog tells me you’ve got some new ideas, too. Can’t wait to see hear more!

  3. Hi Pat,
    Yesterday I had a small bowl of black eyed peas, but I added a few chopped leeks to spice them up a bit. You’re right about calendars being on sale. Yesterday I went shopping with my granddaughter, and she found a planner originally selling for $40 marked down to $9. What a bargain!

    • Pat Wahler

      January 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Donna!
      Black-eyed peas definitely require some doctoring. I think there’s a dish called “Hoppin’ John” made with black-eyed peas that I may some day try.

      Nice find on the calendar. You have to love those after-the-holiday-sales.

  4. Linda O'Connell

    January 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Well, I did partake of black-eyed peas, so I hope my publishing luck improves. I have a paper submissions calendar right on my desk. It motivates me. In fact I have a stack of old ones, that I look back over each January. As of today, I have been writing for 20 years. Best to you on your new ideas this year.

    • Pat Wahler

      January 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Hi Linda!

      You are one of the most prolific writers I know. I think I can safely put money on the probability of you having spectacular success in 2017!

  5. I love using a print calendar too, Pat. There’s just something about it that I find more appealing than digital. As to the black-eyed peas, I’ve never done that, even though I live in the South. I’ll probably have my Steel Magnolia card revoked. 😉

    • Pat Wahler

      January 2, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Hi Lisa!
      I definitely still haven’t acquired a taste for black-eyed peas. But hey, if my mom and grandma (and probably great-grandma, too) can do it, so can I. As long as its only two spoons once a year, that is.

  6. I love a written calendar as well. I keep it on my desk and take a photo of it each month for my phone!

  7. Pat Wahler

    January 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Sandy!

    There’s just something about having a paper calendar. I hadn’t thought about taking a picture of the page. I’m going to steal that idea!

  8. Love a paper calendar. I transfer all birthdays and anniversaries over to the new one. Then add the conferences I know I’ll attend (OCW). Then I have weeks of blank days to stuff with appointments and such. I keep a different calendar for deadlines and contests right on front of my desk, to remind me I should be writing toward them. It’s a motivational tool, since I keep a computer spreadsheet of actual entries and submissions. But O! the possibilities.

    • Pat Wahler

      January 12, 2017 at 7:39 am

      Hi Marcia!

      You have a great system. I like organization, and the paper calendar certainly helps me. Maybe I’ll need to do a separate calendar for all things related to writing as you do. I tend to be much less vigilant keeping up with those dates.

  9. As for New Year traditions, I haven’t any. I do like to eat cabbage and black eyed peas (not together and not for new year’s). For the peas, which do taste like dirt but I’m okay with that since they remind me of childhood, I slather a slice of bread with butter and put it in the bottom of the bowl of peas with lots of broth. Or just dunk the buttered bread in a bite at a time. A bit of grated onion and carrot doesn’t hurt.
    For a tasty twist on boiled cabbage, slice thick slabs of the cabbage, place them laying on a sheet pan with sides, and layer raw bacon strips over. Bake covered until tender.
    You can see that I can turn almost any healthy food into a cholesterol party in your mouth!

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