This will probably be my last post till next year for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’ve had this nagging pain in my abdomen for several months now that led me to see my primary doctor. She didn’t agree with my assessment that George Bush was the cause of my pain (although she conceded he could be the cause of discomfort in a lower area of my anatomy), so she referred me to a specialist whom I saw this week, and he in turn decided to order some Frankenstein-type tests. So, I have to drink some potions and show up bright and early tomorrow to let the mad scientist do his magic!
The second reason is because my hubby and I will be traveling south to help with my mother again this weekend. Mom is in her 80’s, has Alzheimer’s, and lives with my sister and brother-in-law (who took a much deserved vacation), so we’re taking care of her for the weekend. Some of our children will be joining us and we’ll ring in the New Year together.
Speaking of the New Year, I wanted to tell you about a couple of Pennsylvania traditions that are supposed to guarantee you good fortune and health in the coming year. I believe the traditions are of Czech origin - southwestern Pennsylvania has a huge Czech population – but everyone follows them regardless of ethnicity. Why should the Czechs corner the market on good fortune and health, right?
Anyway, this is the ritual we follow every year. We prepare for the evening by taking shiny silver dollars and setting them outside the front door, along with a broom. The amount doesn’t matter. We usually use two or three. Then, when the ball drops in Time’s Square, we toast to the New Year, kiss and hug our family and friends, and head out the back door or side door (just don’t walk out the front door). Everyone forms a conga line at this point and usually sings the Little Eva song “The Locomotion” as they head for the front door. (I can’t do this part of the tradition because of mobility issues, but I stay inside and watch them make fools of themselves from the window!)
It’s important that a man is first in line when the group reaches the front door. According to tradition, a male has to be the first person across the threshold on the first day of the New Year. It can be immediately after midnight or the next morning or afternoon, but it has to be a male who enters first; otherwise, your household will be cursed with misfortune for the next year.
By the way, you don’t have to form a line and dance to the front door - you can walk single file - but our family is usually feeling pretty mellow by then and somehow they always end up dancing! When the first male reaches the door, he has to pick up the silver dollars, set them on the threshold, and then use the broom to sweep them into the house. (You’re sweeping good fortune into the house that way.) Then the male can walk across the threshold into the house, pick up the silver dollars, and hand them to the next person in line. The process gets repeated until the last person sweeps the coins in and enters the house.
I can’t say you’ll end up a millionaire by following this tradition, but we’ve always been blessed to have enough to provide for ourselves, give help to others, and save a little for the future. What more could any person want?
Finally, don’t forget to eat some pork and sauerkraut on New Years (cooked along with a shiny new dime). We sometimes have it right after midnight and sometimes we have it the next day, but we always make sure to include it on the menu. The sauerkraut and pork bring us good luck for the next year too.
Whatever your family traditions are, I wish everyone good health and good fortune in the coming year, and for our country and the world I wish for peace.