Many of us have year-end traditions, whether celebrating holidays, spending quality time with loved ones, cooking and eating certain foods, enjoying cultural celebrations, and more. What rituals do you participate in this time of year to close out the current year and prepare for the new year?
Hubs and I don’t have one way of celebrating the season. Sometimes we are with family and friends, and sometimes it’s just us. Sometimes we travel, and sometimes we are home alone. Sometimes we decorate, and sometimes we decide to keep it simple. We typically light the candles for Hanukkah, and I have gotten pretty good at saying the prayer. Although our traditions are a bit inconsistent, the one constant is food!
Personally, I love to cook my version of a traditional southern New Year’s Day feast on Christmas: baked chicken (our nieces call it “The Good Chicken”), collard greens, black-eyed peas, and macaroni and cheese. In recent years, I have made this meal on Christmas Day and frozen some for New Year’s Day to cut down on the cooking (and the eating!) of such a heavy meal. It has also helped with not burning out on leftovers, even though I’m not sure that is possible for Hubs, as this is his favorite and most requested meal.
Many say certain dishes represent specific aspirations for the year ahead, such as good luck and good fortune. I have heard black-eyed peas represent coins, and in some southern homes they even cook up black-eyed peas with a lucky penny. Some people say collard greens represent dollar bills, so both of these important side dishes are for prosperity and abundance in the coming year. As someone who tries to embody an abundance mindset, I particularly like this focus. And it’s another great reason to serve it twice during the season!
This season, I was fortunate enough to see Debbie Allen’s Hot Chocolate Nutcracker performance with my family when I was in California. I love ballet, and when I saw that Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy had a performance, I was all in. The story is a close parallel to the original Nutcracker, but with different music and a cast of color. The performance was not strictly ballet, and includes dances in jazz, tap, and even aerial. We were blown away. The performers, the music, and the costumes were all amazing. I also got to see my niece dance in a local production of the Nutcracker just yesterday! It is always a delight to watch her dance.
At this time of year, I also like to reflect on the year closing out, taking into account my goals, my vision board, and how I feel overall. Usually there are several noteworthy surprises and WINS, and there are often a few misses that I don’t quite accomplish. The purpose is not to beat myself up over a goal I didn’t achieve, but rather to feel proud of what I did complete and acknowledge how good that feels. It’s also about unpacking what worked and what didn’t work as well so I can improve in the year ahead.
So, I will take my holiday memories, yummy food, and reflections, and let that carry me through to the year ahead. I’m looking forward to setting new goals, creating a vision board, and making new memories in 2023. What about you? What traditions do you honor this time of year?