Happy New Year! We have only aged a day since we went to sleep last night, yet here we stand . . . at the start of a new year, a new beginning, a fresh start with so many possibilities. Every day we get another chance to start over, as we do each week and each month, but a New Year is a clean slate that we only get once every 365 days, and that we should allow to fills us with a determination to live the best and most fulfilling life we can until the next new beginning. Some people call making resolutions silly, and I suppose they are, if we set ones that are unattainable. If we keep it realistic and make the most of each opportunity, we can make our lives better at the end of this year than they were when we ended the previous one. Are you ready to get started?
Verse of the Day
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
We all like “do-overs” or second chances. God does much better than that! He allows us to become new again. Being the “God of new things” he can even make us new. Beyond forgiveness, beyond cleansing, he makes us holy through Jesus. Let’s use the opportunity of a New Year as a springboard for living a life fresh and new and alive for God!
Food for Thought
My biggest, and likely most important, goal this year is to get back on track with my health. A couple of months ago, well, probably four months now, we decided to try a low-carb way of eating. I’d never heard the word “keto” before last year when my son and daughter-in-law decided to change their eating habits, and quite honestly I thought they were a little off center for it. The foods they were eating just were so opposite of everything that we hear at our doctors’ offices, and the popular diet plans such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and many others. It took everything I thought I knew about healthy eating and stood it on its head. So I began seeking information, answers to all of the questions that I had about what it was my son and daughter-in-law were doing. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I ordered this book – “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet”, (it’s linked here), and it literally twisted my mind, made me angry at the lies we have been told, and the reasons we were told these lies. Greed was really at the bottom of it all, and many over-inflated egos just wanting to make a mark on the world. The end result has been more than 60 years of increased disease and an obese, sick population. We experimented with it for two full months, and though I didn’t lose a LOT of weight during that time, I felt so much better. My joints didn’t hurt as badly, I was sleeping better and over all I felt more cheerful. I did a perfect belly-flop off of the plan on Thanksgiving Day and didn’t climb back on. The result is that I feel horrible. My body aches all over, I am getting more headaches, and I’m exhausted. Today is the new beginning that I am always talking about, but this time I have to make it a lifestyle. Am I saying there will never be anything high carb in my diet? No, that would be unrealistic. But I am saying that I have to make healthier eating a lifestyle so that when the occasional planned cheat, or unexpected meal out, happens, it won’t completely derail my life and my health. As a nod to this I will be including as many keto/low-carb recipes in my daily Food Celebration as I can. I am finding that for MOST things carb-filled, there is a low-carb alternative. I say most because there are just some things that can’t be made-over properly. They taste different, and the textures are sometimes a little challenging to adapt to after a lifetime of eating carb-filled choices, but it is doable, and the end result for many people is a healthier life, better numbers on lab tests and renewed energy. I’ll try to keep ahead of the celebrations – though some may be difficult for financial reasons, or even timing, but I’ll do the best I can. Maybe you’ll be convinced to try something new as well!
Copyright Law Day – This isn’t exactly an exciting one to celebrate, but it does have its practical purposes. Without copyright laws there would end up being a lot of fighting over who owns what, what is fair usage of someone else’s ideas, and who owns what intellectual property. I honestly think that people do take this way too far though. I’ve heard of lawsuits where a company of person sues another company or person to stop using a certain picture, name or motto because it is SIMILAR to one used by the company doing the suing. Seriously? Because it is similar? Get over yourselves! If your product, concept or whatever you have is worth it people will remember no matter if another company uses something similar or not. Geesh! So, yes, we need to protect our ideas, logos, etc. but let’s not take things so far that we forget that there are a lot of people in the world and just because someone comes up with something close to yours, doesn’t mean they are actually going after your idea. They very likely never even heard of you and thought their idea was new and original.
Commitment Day – We all make commitments in our lives. Some are short term, like getting a certain chore completed, and some are serious, like a marriage vow. We say “I do”, “I will” or “I promise” in such commitments – and I suppose many do not understand the seriousness of what they are saying. Commitment itself is a beautiful thing, though the breaking of a serious commitment can be heart breaking. Many people today are making promises to themselves – to lose weight, to get better organized, to start or complete a project . . . and on this 1st day of this New Year we mean those promises. Like a vow, let us mean what it is we promise, and fulfill our commitments to ourselves, and others, today. There is a difference between a resolution and a commitment – with the first Commitment Day being celebrated in 1960 as an extension of the traditional resolution making. Commitments are often made to people so that they can benefit from them, as well as ourselves. There must be someone in your life to whom a commitment would be meaningful . . . maybe you don’t spend enough time with your children, maybe you have failed to honor your commitment as a spouse by not being there for your significant other. By honoring a commitment made to the ones you love, you will feel better about life in general, and you will make their lives better in the process. Today make a heartfelt pledge, and follow through on it.
Divorce Monday (First Monday of year which is when most feel that divorces are filed) – I’m not at all sure that I agree with this one, but I’m not here to create the celebrations, but to share them with you. I’ve combined these two since they both land on the 1st Monday of January (as long as that Monday is not also the 1st of the month), but they are equally negative. According to a study that at best is called pseudoscience by experts, today is considered to be the most depressing day of the year. This is the day that couples fight over such silly stuff from putting away Christmas decorations, to who spent more time with the in-laws. In many places the weather is gross, and everything in the news is generally a big downer. Today they found that there are nearly 5 times the average number of tweets on Twitter with negative language and phrases that indicate a drop in mood, and legal experts even dubbed this Divorce Day because of the sheer number of divorce proceedings that are begun this day. This is also the day that so many people give up their healthier living resolutions . . . almost seems like they’ve given up before they’ve even tried! Buck up people! Tomorrow is a new day! Don’t do anything you’ll regret . . . just pull up your big girl/boy panties and wait it out until a less depressing day arrives! Personally, I don’t find this day to be depressing at all . . . of course I haven’t been fighting with my hubby, and I try most of the time to find a least a little good in every situation.
Ellis Island Day – There is no way that I can briefly do justice to this topic, especially not in a short period of time. Ellis Island served as a gateway from other parts of the world to the United States from 1892 to 1954 – bringing over twelve million immigrants through just a small island in New York Harbor. It is located in the upper bay, just off of the New Jersey coast, right in the shadow of the Stature of Liberty! It started out 3.3 acres big, and over the years, after bringing in landfill and excess earth from the ballast of ships and the construction of the subway system, it grew to be 27.5 acres! Before it was designated as the first Federal immigration station by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, Ellis Island was known by more than one other name. The local Indian tribes called it “Kioshk” – or Gull Island. Because it had rich and abundant oyster beds, and profitable shad runs, it was known as Oyster Island for many generations during the Dutch and English colonial periods. In the 1770s the island became the private property of Samuel Ellis, and it had already been known as not only Kioshk and Oyster Island, but Dyre island, Bucking Island and Anderson’s Island. I couldn’t find a reason for those other names, at least not without taking longer for the research. The island developed over time from a little sandy spot that barely arose above the high tide mark, into a hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, an ammunition depot named Fort Gibson and eventually into an immigration station. There is SOOOO much more to tell you, but honestly I just don’t think I can do it justice. If you are interested in reading into this further, please check out this site, it has a lot of information that is fascinating about such an important piece of U.S. History. What strikes me about this celebration is that THESE immigrants did it legally. They wanted to come to our country to become a part of the fabric of this amazing nation, to be a part of her growth and success. They came to pledge their allegiance to this nation, to its flag and to the constitution. They loved and remembered their mother lands, but they learned our language, they became Americans. They did not insist that America change for them, but chose to change for America. This is the way that it was intended to be. It was not intended that WE change for other nations coming here, for us to accommodate THEIR languages, THEIR flags, THEIR religious zealotry. It was not intended that they be given a hand out, freebies on the backs of the hard working citizens who in some cases cannot easily make it on their own, much less support 10’s of thousands, if not millions of people who didn’t bother to come here legally, following the proper channels, assimilating into OUR culture, but expecting us to change for them. It is with loathing that I see the ones who have been calling the shots in our country allowing, no not allowing, ENCOURAGING the illegal entry to our country for their own political means, and I pray to God in Heaven the new administration does as promised and stops this before we cease to be the nation we are, and become a nation we do not recognize. Today we honor the memory of the legal immigrants who came through Ellis Island with a dream to become Americans, and we pray for the preservation of this America they helped to build.
First Foot Day – This is fascinating! I had never heard of this one until a few years ago. First Foot Day marks the beginning of the New Year and it is said to bring luck. This was a tradition that started in Scotland, and from what I’ve read there are families in the United States who celebrate it too, but I’m wondering if this is more prevalent on the east coast than here on the west coast. If anyone has ever celebrated this, I’d love to read your comments on it. Anyway, for those of us who had never heard of it before, this is what this celebration is all about: The term “First Food” or “First Footing” comes from the first person to cross the threshold of a home on the first day of the New Year. Years ago, for good luck, the first person to enter a home should have been a dark haired man. When he knocked on your door he would have with him symbolic gifts of a silver coin, coal, shortbread, salt, and whiskey – for prosperity, warmth, food, flavor and good cheer. Now the dark haired man could be a member of the household, but he had to be outside before midnight, and come back AFTER midnight. If he goes out and back in after midnight, he’s just wasted a trip. Apparently the dark haired part comes from the time of the Vikings – it wasn’t very good luck when a blond haired stranger arrived on your doorstep with a big axe. And I can’t find out why, but apparently a female first foot is bad luck. When I read the Outlander series they had a chapter on welcoming in the New Year and First Footing was a part of it. After reading about it for here, then seeing it there, I thought it was pretty interesting. Of course because Outlander is a series of novels, they went into a lot of detail, so I found it to be very intriguing. Some of these traditions sound like so much fun – I wish we celebrated them still.
Mummer’s Parade – What’s a Mummer? Simply put, Mummers are entertainers in costume welcoming in the New Year! OK, that’s easy enough. Some of the earliest mummers date back to early Egypt, pagan Rome and Greece, England, Germany and France. Every nation has had its festivals, each having parades and displays of fanciful costumes. These have influenced customs and started many interesting traditions that have been passed down in each culture, from generation to generation. Eventually these traditions were brought to America by immigrants. Now, the Philadelphia Mummery tradition started in the late 17th century – continuing Old World customs of bringing in the New Year. Mummery in America is as unique to Philadelphia as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. In the beginning different neighborhood celebrations, all independent of each other, would go on everywhere to celebrate the new year. By the 1870s though, those groups turned their celebrations into an area-wide parade with two main groups participating – Fancy Dress and Comic clubs. The City of Philadelphia finally organized and sponsored the first official Mummers Parade on January 1, 1901! How fun!
New Years Day – Today we began a new year, a blank chapter in the book that records our lives. What we write in this chapter is up to us, and every choice we make, every single day of this year, will be recorded in this chapter, whether or not we wish them to be. I’ve always thought of each new beginning, no matter whether it is New Year, week, day, hour or even minute as the instant after we get off of our knees after coming to God with a plea to forgive us our sins. In that moment we are washed clean, with a fresh page in front of us, waiting for the writing that will inevitably appear there. It is up to us, the choice is ours completely, what is written. Today let’s make the choices that will make this chapter a good one, without regrets, a chapter that we can look back on 365 days from now and be proud of and smile over how far we have come in this journey we call life.
Tournament of Roses Parade Day – This year was the 128th Rose Bowl Parade. How amazing is that? Not only that this parade has been celebrated on the 1st day of each New Year for 128 years, but it’s an ACTUAL parade that has maintained the meaning of what a parade really should be! I’ve watched several parades over the years, and the ones we see on TV have become ridiculous salutes to Broadway productions, and stroking the egos of any and all singers and actors who seem to think they are super special in every way. I watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and what I saw would be a glimpse at a float or a band, to be quickly panned over to some sort of overhyped musical number in the street. It was annoying. Last year was the first time I’ve watched the Tournament of Roses Parade in many years and it was so refreshing to see bands, drill teams, actual floats, horses and cars with happy people waving at the crowds. Not a professional musical performance in sight, which made me happy. Have you watched a REAL parade lately? Did you watch THIS one?
This Day in History –
1735 – Paul Revere was born.
1878 – Emma M. Nutt became the first woman telephone operator.
1908 – The ball was first dropped at Times Square in New York City.
Food Celebration of the Day –
Bloody Mary Day – Welcome to a New Year! What better way to embrace a red-eyed morning after a blowout night than with a tall glass of everyone’s favorite morning-after elixir? Of course for those of us who didn’t have one of those late nights of drinking, perhaps a Bloody Mary would just be a nice way to start the day! My daughter makes amazing Bloody Marys – hers are like a lovely large salad all stuck into a glass of spiked tomato juice. A meal and a beverage all in one!
This is my choice for the Low-Carb/Keto Food Celebration of the day since apples are not low carb and neither are black-eyed peas.
You can find all sorts of recipes for this beverage when you look for them, and honestly, I couldn’t find any reason for any of them to be considered high-carb. The recipe I chose was this one, because it looked interesting and with some of the ingredients listed, I knew it was going to pack a bit of a punch. I wasn’t wrong! I did cut the recipe in half though, because we aren’t known to drink these often, so one was definitely enough. You can add any sort of low-carb foods to your drink to dress it up. Some restaurants even feature them with sliders, grilled cheese sandwiches and all sorts of other things! I’ve put what I had on hand in mine – celery, dill pickle slices, pepperoncinis, garlic stuffed green olives, kalamata olives, grape tomatoes and, of course, bacon!
Apple Gifting Day – I hadn’t heard of this one before, which is odd, since I’ve been doing this blog for 5 years now! The origin of this one isn’t known, but it is a nice way to start the year. This is something that was new information to me, but apparently up until the 17th century “apple” was a generic term for fruit other than berries. It is the symbol for many things like love, knowledge, bounty, good health, beauty and rebirth. One possible meaning for giving an apple is to wish the person who receives it good health and a fruitful year. Since there are over 7,000 types of apples, this could b a gift given often without even repeating itself, though I admit I’ve never seen anywhere NEAR that many types of apples in my whole life.
National Black Eyed Peas Day – Black-Eyed Peas are a traditional food that you will find people throughout the South eating today, along with ham, cornbread and greens. This tradition has spread to other parts of the country, but for those of us born and raised somewhere BESIDES the south, you may wonder, as I did, why this is such an important food for this holiday. Let’s find out, shall we? Eating black eyed peas on New Year’s Day has been thought to be good luck for at least 1,500 years. There is a portion of the Talmud written around 500 A.D. that it was a Jewish custom to eat black-eyed peas to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is possible that this tradition came to America with Sephardic Jews, who first came to the shores of Georgia in the 1730s. If you look at local folklore, the tradition spread after the Civil War. The Northern Army thought that black-eyed peas were only suitable for animals, so they didn’t bother to gather the crops for their own use, or to destroy them. The symbolism behind black-eyed peas has a variety of explanations. One is that eating these simple beans shows humility and a lack of vanity. The humble nature of this legume is spoken of in an old expression, “Eat poor on New Year’s and eat fat for the rest of the year.” Another explanation is that dried beans sort of resemble coins. (Really? Huh.) and another is that because dried beans expand when they are cooked, they symbolize expanding wealth. Whatever the actual explanation, it is clear that many people associate black eyed peas with good luck and monetary gain . . . and that’s where the greens come in. Greens are the color of currency, so any green will do, but in the south adding collards, turnip greens, or mustard greens to a meal represents money in the New Year. Golden cornbread is added to the meal as well, and a well-known phrase (must be a regional phrase) is “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold.” Pork is a staple meat of just about every Southern Meal, so it’s usually cooked with the peas. The pork is there for flavor, but the symbolism in the pork is that pigs root forward when they are foraging, which represents positive motion. There is no single “right” way to prepare your black-eyed peas on January 1st, but one fun way to do it is to prepare a dish called “Hoppin John”. Hoppin John is a mixture of black-eyed peas, rice, and bacon or ham hock. Some folks toss a dime into the pot and believe that whoever gets the dime in their serving gets extra good luck for the upcoming year.