Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed us now, and it’s time for a New Year already. Can you believe it? I’m not sure about you, but my last year literally flew by. There are things I could have handled differently in that year, and there are things I would do over and over again if given the chance. That’s what life is truly about. It’s about living, learning, and appreciating the gifts we are given on a daily basis.
When the New Year rolls around, I don’t normally make resolutions. I find that I’m quite rebellious when I least expect it and those resolutions quickly exit my life. Instead, I take stock of my life and all the wonderful parts of it. There’s always one part that comes to mind first though. It’s my Mom’s birthday, and she is the most wonderful part of each and every year of my life. Therefore, when I take stock, she’s first on my list.
I feel that I must share a little bit about our Mother/Daughter relationship.
Throughout all of my years (now 30 of those years), my Mom has been there for me unconditionally. The following are just a few examples. When our cool Southern nights would roll around, Vick’s Vapor Rub was present. I used to love Mom’s tender touch when I was sick rubbing the Vick’s on my upper chest to soothe my congestion. Sometimes on a sick day home from school, we would have cheesy mashed potatoes with chopped up ham and sliced cheese in them. It was a mild dish that I could enjoy. Mashed potatoes are very special to me because of this. There was always sight-seeing in different states when we would travel to make sure I learned about different cultures and history. We were and still are best buds. I can talk to her about absolutely anything.
She allowed me to make the mistakes I needed to in order to grow, and she was always there to pick my broken heart up off the floor and apply some “Mom Glue”. Many times she told me I could do better. Many times she told me you can’t quit a job until you have one. Many times she told me to simply and purely follow my dreams. Many times she told me to always trust in the strength that is God. Many times – many, many times – she has told me she loves me.
For a time, it was just me and Mom. And, you know what? We made it – we would go out to Arby’s and split a meal to save some money, we would have our own little celebrations at home, and we survived, as many single parents and children do.
There are countless magical memories of my Mom I could share…but, alas, there aren’t enough pages for this.
See, my Mom is a good Southern woman. Luckily for her, on her birthday, some of her favorite Southern foods make up our traditional New Year’s Day meal. We gather at my Grandmother’s home and enjoy a birthday meal for her. It always consists of turnip greens, cornbread, and the all-important black-eyed peas. I remember growing up and always being told to eat plenty of it all so I could have good luck and prosperity in the year ahead. Sadly, I grew a strong disdain for turnip greens over the year – which probably explains a lot. I make up for it though, with eating lots of black-eyed peas and cornbread! Both of these are two of my favorite Southern foods as well.
While the New Year’s Day meal is strictly traditional fare for most households, it’s a special meal for my family. I encourage you to look into all of the different versions of a “traditional” New Year’s Day meal and all of the various meanings. The one story I found the most, and enjoyed the idea of the most, was this…
“Back in the days of civil war, Union troops swept through the south, confiscating crops and livestock to use as provisions for their troops. Southerners who weren’t off fighting were left with precious little, save for peas and greens. You see, Union soldiers considered “field peas” and greens to be fit only for animal fodder. These dishes became cherished and appreciated as what saved many a family from starvation during those times and the tradition of celebrating these dishes on the New Year was born.” – Christy Jordan, www.SouthernPlate.com
Mom’s “Birthday Dinner” is deeply rooted in the Southern traditions and love – just like my Mom. My Mom loves the South. I love the South, and I love my Mom.
As I think about how to close this article for you, I can’t help but think of how many people are without a Mom like the Mom I was blessed with. Hold your Mom’s and Mother figures close. Never forget to appreciate them or tell them you love them in the year ahead and all the years to come. My Mom is magnificent. She is my inspiration. She is my shining and constant reminder of God’s love, and she is the most wonderful part of my life. Happy New Year, everyone!
~Originally published in January 2013 issue of Alamance County Magazine.