As soon as the temperature drops and fall sets into place, the holiday season arrives. This is the time for great movies, family bonding and snowfall. The new year sneaks up behind all the festivities and it forces you to think about everything you may have (or have not) accomplished; it also brings in a lot of new beginnings. Living another year gives you the chance to take your life and mold it into something that you like, something you are proud of. Whether that means going to the gym or doing your homework on time, you have the opportunity to change for the better. To me, that means spending time with family and bonding over the food we cook, and the childhood pictures our grandma forces us to look at.
My approach to the new year was always accompanied by tradition. Many people I know decide to bring in the New Year in the form of a party, with friends or with their significant others. Some common New Year’s Day activities include going to Times Square, watching fireworks, or maybe even going to the bars and party. Many people I know tend to look down upon staying home with family because they feel that it is “boring” or uneventful. My view is different though, because my family has always been big on bonding and keeping traditions alive. One of our traditions is our New Year’s Day dinner. This tradition was passed down with many other rituals and routines that we keep up with today, and they all date back to the horrible times of slavery. This was our family’s way of bringing in blessings and making something good come out of the horrible pain that we endured. Some of our other traditions include spending Christmas Eve together as a family and opening our presents in front of everyone, all the way down to our beloved superstition that the first man to walk into the house on New Year’s Day must have money in his pocket. My grandmother taught us all these things to keep the rich history of our family alive.
Focusing more on our New Year’s meal, the dinner consists of greens, black-eyed peas and ham. The greens symbolize blessings in the form of money, the black-eyed peas represent good luck and the ham is for food to always be available and plentiful. Dinner begins early in the day on New Year’s Eve to ensure that it will be done and ready to eat as soon as midnight hits. It is very important that we eat the meal as our first meal of the year, to validate all the great things that we eat it for.
My traditions have put everything into perspective for me. Spending time with family is not always a bad thing; it can be very healing and healthy. This time allows you to be your true self and to enjoy the many personalities and all the love that surrounds you. This is especially important to me because I miss out on a lot being in college, so the holidays are my catch-up time. I am going to continue to pass these traditions down to my children. New Years does not just have to be about drinking or creating a list of resolutions that you will never follow. It can be about something more valuable and making sure that with each year you keep sight of what’s important, like bonding with loved ones and keeping positivity around.