I never ring in a new year with a lot of fanfare.
Halloween has always been my holiday of choice because I enthusiastically endorse any opportunity to assume another identity and consume candy with abandon.
New Year’s, on the other hand, is perennially overhyped like a summer blockbuster – a sure sign of impending disappointment. It’s also a holiday that’s annoyingly aligned with hangovers, new diets, new workouts and black-eyed peas.
Ordinarily, I’d choose the hangover 10 times out of 10 if I hadn’t recently become so superstitious about the black-eyed peas.
In my universe, hangovers, diets and workouts have a shelf life of about 24 hours, but skipping the black-eyed peas carries a minimum sentence of 365 days. If 2014 has taught me anything, it’s not to trifle with those.
Purported to bring good luck to those who eat them on New Year’s Day, black-eyed peas had been my annual staple for years. But after a string of uneventful years – not lucky, not bad, just OK – I concluded that the “good luck” promise was a myth, probably concocted by charlatan landlords to make the serfs mind their black-eyed pea crops. The next thing you know, the serfs are telling their serf babies and then the grandserfs, who all grow up believing they’re lucky to be serfs (thanks, no doubt, to the New Year’s Day consumption of black-eyed peas).
This time last year, right there in my neighborhood Homeland, I convinced myself that I’d be the serf to expose the myth as I strolled right past the canned vegetable aisle with my nose in the air, dismissing the black-eyed peas as nothing more than the fodder of feudal propaganda.
What kind of risk was I taking, after all? Not once have I ever heard a lottery winner exclaim, “And it’s all because I ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day!” Black-eyed peas never get props from the person with the winning raffle ticket, or the guy who finds a billfold full of cash (with no ID inside, of course) or from the 12th caller.
Face it: black-eyed peas just don’t have the same clout as more legitimate, luck-bringing currency – the rabbit’s foot, the four-leaf clover, the winning half of the wishbone or even the parking lot penny. BEPs are the wannabe-harbingers of good luck, with all the Doomsday-ready convenience of a can.
Convinced there would be no measurable downside to skipping my annual serving of black-eyed peas, I moved on to the Christmas candy aisle, where I nabbed some half-price peppermint bark with a hard, crunchy consistency that was remarkably similar to the hard, crunchy consistency of the molar that broke in half as I was eating the bark.
And it was only January 2.
The broken tooth, it turns out, was one of the brighter spots of 2014.
When I told a friend last fall that 2014 was the worst year ever, he shook his head and warned me, “If you don’t stop saying that, you’re going to manifest it.”
But at that point, it was too late; manifestation of the Year of the Devil was well underway, operating on all 365 cylinders. If 2014 had been Jack Ruby, then I was Oswald, a guy who, according to most historians (and feudal lords), did not eat any black-eyed peas on January 1, 1963.
As someone whose default setting is happy and optimistic (without pharmaceuticals), I doubted that I could be the manifester of such an inauspicious year. My mindset would have manifested a year of joy, celebration, friendship and kindness for me and for everyone around me. Halfway through, it was clear that my 2014 had been hijacked by a chimp with a loaded pistol, obviously sanctioned by the devil.
Refusing to concede 2014 to the chimp, I’ve decided that last year’s misfortunes point right back to an unopened can of black-eyed peas. This year, taking no chances, I will ring in the New Year at midnight, armed with a can opener in one hand and a double helping of black-eyed peas on my table.
If I’m manifesting anything for 2015, it is divine reciprocity to bring my world back into alignment and bring light where there has been darkness. For you, kind reader, I’d like to manifest the best year ever, with all the joy, laughter and promise of good fortune that every new year brings.
But if I were you, I’d still eat the black-eyed peas, just in case.
Happy New Year!