Saturday, January 01, 2005

...and a New Year Begins

One of my mom's favorite exclamations is "Oh, life!" I would love to know where that came from as it's just so fitting. She says that whenever she wants to throw her hands up in exasperation or she doesn't know what else to say. Whenever I think of New Year's Day and all the stupid things that are associated with it, I too cry "Oh, life!"

Blacks (American and Caribbean) have culinary traditions for New Year's Day. We eat black-eyed peas for good luck, prosperity, and children. We eat collard or other dark leafed greens to attract money, pork for "fatness" or abundance. Some Southerners believe it's bad luck for a female to be the first to cross the house's threshold. Every New Year's I spent with my ex involved finding some male friend to walk through the door before us. And every New Year's Day meal featured black-eyed peas, collards, and pork.

Other "traditions" aren't as rooted in spirituality or superstition. The drinking of champagne, spending more than you ever have to get into the same club you go to, finding someone to kiss at midnight, are all mildly amusing, but increasingly tiresome. And the worst of all is the resolution.

New year resolutions are guaranteed to break your heart before the year has even begun. Most resolutions have the same theme: make myself better physically, financially, romantically, emotionally than the year before. Lose 20 pounds. Gain 20 pounds. Join a gym. Find a boyfriend. Dump my girlfriend. Get married. Get pregnant. Find a new job.

Forget that resolution crap. Here is what we should all do: Be.

Be happy -- laugh often, but primarily at yourself, and seldom at others.
Be honest -- eventually, people will figure out that you're not as smart, as good looking, as brave, and as confident as you think you are. You'd be surprised how well people will treat you and how well you'll sleep at night if you'll just be yourself.
Be healthy -- Get your fat butt off the couch. Give up one glass of soda or fruit-flavored beverage in exchange for a glass of water. Kool-Aid doesn't count, nor do those fruit-flavored waters that are sweetened.
Be generous -- I guarantee you have at least one thing you don't need, be it a dollar or a perfectly sound item of clothing, or a spare can of corn.
Be responsible -- Stop having unsafe sex that may result in another child you want the government to pay for, or in a disease you won't recover from. Stop blaming your problems on others and act like an adult. Stop feeling unjustly entitled; life is tough. Suck it up.
Be frugal -- do you or your children really need a pair of sneakers that costs as much as one-third of your salary? Credit cards aren't free money. Think before you buy, and don't buy from a business that doesn't respect you for your ethnicity, your gender, or sexual orientation.
Be a good friend -- good friends have good friends. Bad friends are an endless vacuum, sucking the life out of their good friends.
Be a better lover -- no, I don't mean in the bedroom. Be the kind of lover you want to attract. Be faithful if you want someone to be faithful. Be present, attentive, if you want someone to be present with and attentive to you.
Be assertive, not aggressive -- We have plenty of loudmouths and bullies. Stand up for yourself, but without stomping on the feelings or rights of others.
Be good to yourself -- None of us is perfect, no matter how badly we want to be. Take it easy on yourself.

So you did some things in 2004 you weren't proud of, or you didn't do what you wanted. Forget it. Just be.

Have a wonderful year.


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