A Childhood New Year

As a child, I don’t recall making New Year’s resolutions. Actually, I believe those pledges are primarily for adults or grown-up kids. Even at 13, I didn’t consider myself grown, so I had no reason to engage in adult behavior.

Now, as a child, we did celebrate the New Year, but not with resolutions and wishes and all of that. In my community, some believed that certain foods should be eaten on New Year’s Day … black-eyed peas and some kind of pork, like chitterlings or hogs maws. I wasn’t particularly inclined toward any of them, especially chitterlings.

I probably did wish that no farmer would plant any more cotton or peas or cucumbers or peaches, and that someone would cut down all the pecan trees so we wouldn’t have to harvest any more pecans during cold winter months. Unfortunately, none of those wishes came true.

When we girls met our friends at church or school, all we did was show off our new clothes and talk about what all we got for Christmas. We left the resolutions to the grown folks. We had more important things to talk about.

Photo: Fotolia/Sondem

Older people call resolutions “turning over a new leaf.” In a physical and mental sense, there is a feeling of freshness and newness for the New Year. And even today, for some reason, I like to clean out old papers, get rid of things I’ve had for a hundred years and sort of mentally prepare to start the New Year afresh. So, I guess, in a way, that is a kind of resolution. I want things to be different, at least when another year begins.

There was also a belief that whatever you did on New Year’s Day, you would do the entire year. Yes, some of us were a little superstitious. And of course, as kids, we played along with it … not really believing most of it.

In my home, there were no New Year’s activities. Come to think of it, we may have finished off our fireworks and the last of the Christmas candies and other goodies. Other than that, New Year’s was just another day.

As we got older, I remember my dad shooting the old year out and the New Year in. Now, where that tradition comes from or what it means, I have no earthly idea. Actually, after I was grown, I fired a few rounds myself until I found out that such activity is illegal within city limits.

Photo: Fotolia/justinkendra

Lastly, we went to church to “sing the old year out and pray the New Year in.” We were a religious family, and everything centered around the church. This was a long-standing tradition where I grew up. We’d arrive at church around 10 p.m. and have a real, live, “Sunday go-to-meeting” church service. After the service was over, we drank coffee and ate the most delicious doughnuts in the world. For us kids, that was our favorite part. Then, we went home and slept the rest of the morning until the day dawned upon the horizon – shining in a bright and Happy New Year.

Published on Jan 2, 2014

Grit Magazine

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