Traditions That Make You Feel Good

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As 40somethings raising kids, we seem to have finally outgrown celebrating the start of the new year by getting real drunk and staying up late. We still stay up past midnight as a matter of pride, but we’ve slowly shifted the emphasis to New Year’s Day festivities, which include eating traditional meals, plus discussing the highlights of the previous year and hopes for the new one. In other words, we focus on traditions that make us feel good, not hungover.

Growing up in New Mexico, it was instilled in me that it's absolutely necessary to eat posole on January 1. And since my ancestors moved to New Mexico from Arkansas and other southern locales, it's also imperative that everyone in my family eat at least one bite of black-eyed peas on Jan. 1 to secure good luck for the new year. A few years I made a cheesecake or lemon tart for New Year's Day, hiding one almond in the pie. This is another good luck token, which I must have read about somewhere along the line. I find these traditions, almost always related to food and celebrations, to be fascinating, and I hope lots of you readers will share your traditions in the comments.

Along those lines, The New York Times put up a fun slideshow about new year's traditions from around the globe.

The highlights of 2008 for all of us were the outcome of the election and various family trips we took. Bruce loved NYC, Kindy enjoyed a couple of overnights in San Francisco, and Arlo loved spending a week hiking and swimming on the Eel River. That reminded me of one of my highlights -- seeing an albino redwood tree during a hike on that trip.

As for aspirations in 2009, Arlo, who's 6, started the conversation by saying, "I hope we do lots and lots of yoga!" This was interesting to the rest of the family; as far as any of us know, Arlo’s only ever done yoga once in his short life, but it apparently made a big impression. Kindy, 13, wanted the self-absorbed things you’d expect from a teen: a winning basketball team at school and more free time, less homework. I wanted to take more hikes and go to the beach more often, which I'm pretty sure is my declaration almost every year. Bruce was the most selfless: he hoped for fewer wars in the world, and more peaceful times for everyone. Amen to that.

--Shawn (image courtesy of Susan Beal)

(Shawn Connally and Bruce Stewart are guest bloggers)