If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
- Catherine Aird
I was in my mid-20s before I ever saw a New Year come in.
Such was not one of my family's New Year's traditions.
True to our rural upbringing, we went to bed at the usual time on New Year's Eve and got up at the usual time on New Year's morning.
It was very quiet, and, not surprisingly, so was the year that followed.
Now, it seems, everything is overdone. Loudly.
People crowd city squares to watch something fall at the stroke of midnight.
In New York, it's a big ball.
In Atlanta, it's a big Peach.
In Brunswick, Ga., as we reported the other day, it's a big, papier-mache shrimp.
But wait, according to my research, there's more.
In Mexico, they eat grapes.
Yep, on New Year's Eve, many turn on the TV and wait for the midnight bell to ring 12 times.
Each time it rings, they eat a grape for good luck.
They eat the grapes in Venezuela, too, but they also do something else - wear yellow underwear.
It's supposed to bring good luck.
Apparel is important to celebrating the New Year in Brazil, but the color is different.
They wear white clothes to attract good fortune and generally watch fireworks.
They set things on fire in Colombia, too.
It's called burning "Mr. Old Year," a tradition in some cities.
The family makes a large male doll that represents the old year. Then they stuff the doll with different materials.
At midnight on New Year's Eve, they set the doll on fire. This symbolizes burning the past and getting ready to start a happy New Year without bad memories of the past.
There are lots of other New Year's traditions. You might have some in your family.
In mine, it stays simple. We get up, drink a couple of cups of coffee and read the newspaper.
It will tell us again that although the world celebrated the changing of its annual calendar differently, we should be encouraged that we celebrate at all.
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TODAY'S JOKE: This one comes from Vince in Martinez:
A man who had been out heavily celebrating the new year phoned the police to report that thieves had been in his car.
"They've stolen the dashboard, the steering wheel, the brake pedal, even the accelerator," he cried out.
However, before the police investigation could start, the phone rang a second time and the same voice came over the line.
"Never mind," he said, "I got in the back seat by mistake."
Reach Bill Kirby at (706) 823-3344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.