Resolutions and traditions: New Year’s brings hope to local families
by LUCIE R. WILLSIE, Associate Editor
Jan 01, 2013 | 1760 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE FREEMAN FAMILY on New Year’s Eve planned on watching the ball drop at Times Square as they do most every year. From left are dad John Freeman; son Brysen, 9; mom Paula; and daughter, Essilee, 6. Banner photos, LUCIE R. WILLSIE
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New Year’s time is particularly special to Suzi Kaylor.

Her birthday is on Dec. 29.

She had out-of-town relatives in town to shop with her at Bradley Square Mall Saturday, as well as to celebrate New Year’s. Suzi said she doesn’t have any regular yearly traditions, other than staying home and watching the ball drop in Times Square, along with millions of others around the world.

Relative Jennifer Swafford, visiting from Atlanta for the holidays, does have a familiar — especially Southern — tradition. She will eat black-eyed peas and greens. It’s supposed to bring good luck and money, and Jennifer thinks it might be true.

“I haven’t been without,” Jennifer said. “You have to have it.”

Many New Year’s food traditions are said to bring good luck, like the black-eyed peas Jennifer mentioned, in addition to ham, cabbage and even rice in some parts of the U.S.

Other foods also are considered to bring good luck, such as anything in the shape of a ring. That’s why the Dutch, in particular, believe eating donuts on New Year’s Day will bring them good luck.

For Jennifer Kaylor, however, in addition to celebrating with a special meal, New Year’s also is a time to spend with friends and family. Not for making resolutions, however, because she never keeps them anyway. So, she reasons, why make them?

Haley Swafford, 8, has a tradition of trying to stay up until midnight, but she usually never makes it. She falls asleep, she confesses.

New Year’s is the oldest of all holidays, according to online sources, first being celebrated in ancient Babylon around 2000 B.C. At that time, New Year’s was actually celebrated on the first New Moon after the first day of spring, and lasted 11 days.

With calendars and dates constantly changing over the years, the Roman Senate was the first to try to standardize dates in 153 B.C., making Jan. 1 the set date for the beginning of the new year.

The making of New Year’s resolutions is another familiar tradition. The most popular modern resolution usually involves improving one’s health by losing weight, getting into shape or stopping smoking.

It has been reported that in the 1940s, only about one-fourth of Americans made New Year’s resolutions. Ten years ago, it had risen to 40 percent. However, the rise in their making resulted in an 88 percent failure rate according to a 2007 study by the University of Bristol. Of those who did succeed, 22 percent of men usually achieved their goals, while only 10 percent of women reached theirs.

The Babylonians reportedly had as their most common resolution the return of farm equipment they had borrowed the year before, as well as to pay any debts they owed.

Many other traditions are synonymous with New Year’s Eve, such as the song “Auld Lang Syne,” for example.

Written by Robert Burns in the 1700s, it was first published in 1796. It was inspired by an old Scottish song, “Auld Lang Syne,” which means “the good old days” or “times gone by.” The song promises to remember folks from the past with love and kindness.

Leslie Dotson, an ad rep at the Cleveland Daily Banner, also has a food tradition on New Year’s Eve.

“I make my great-grandma’s recipes for cabbage rolls, mac and cheese, and cornbread,” Dotson said. By eating them, it’s supposed to bring in money all year long. But Dotson believes that it really won’t; that only hard work will bring in the money.

“But I’m not going to risk it by not eating them,” she added.

Joann Kaylor spent her New Year’s Eve with her family — her biological family, as well as her extended family.

“It’s all about family ... I’ll sit with a man who has Alzheimer’s,” Joann Kaylor said. “He’s become family.”

Her granddaughter, Megan Kaylor, a senior at Baylor, also spent the evening with the family. Even her cousin, Colton, who is only 9, tried to stay up to midnight to watch the ball drop. His mom, Angee Kaylor, said she fondly remembers holding him as a newborn on just such a New Year’s Eve years ago.

Angee Kaylor will join her mom in trying to be healthier in the new year, as well as spending more time with family.

“Family is the most important,” Angee said. “We get too busy sometimes.”

As far as resolutions go, she’ll probably make the same resolution as last year — lose weight and take better care of her health.

“I did lose a little this year,” she added.

Quitting smoking is the No. 1 resolution for both John and Paula Freeman this year. Their kids — Essilee, 6, and Brysen, 9, have been encouraging them to stop for a while now, and he hopes this may be the year, John said.

Brysen Freeman plans on joining his mom and dad in getting healthier by getting more exercise, he said.

As far as New Year’s Eve, they planned to stayed and watch the ball drop.

The dropping of the ball in Times Square in New York City is a tradition started in 1907 with the original ball being made of iron and wood. Today’s ball is made of Waterford crystal, weighs more than 1,000 pounds and is 6 feet wide.

“But I get so pumped up all day long,” Brysen Freeman said, by the time it’s midnight, “I just fall asleep.”

So does adult Robert RedHawk Eldridge, a member of the Sappany Indian tribe. He also admits — nine times out of 10 — to not being able to stay awake until midnight either.

“My resolution this year is not to get on any scale,” he said jokingly. He pointed out he already accomplished his resolution from last New Year’s. He started losing weight and is continuing to lose. The reason for his success? “I just don’t overeat,” he offered.

He also keeps himself busy and away from the wrong foods by working at his newly opened Standing Stone American Indian Cultural Center located in Monterey.

Both he and his wife, Lynne, fondly remember one special New Year’s Eve in Pigeon Forge. After being high school sweethearts but not seeing each other since, the couple got together again after 25 years, eventually marrying.

Lynne Eldridge is making an additional resolution for the coming year. She wants to become more financially stable.

Chris Ware doesn’t make resolutions.

“It wouldn’t do any good,” he said. “Nobody hardly sticks to them, anyway.”

He does hope the economy will get better soon.

He and his family planned to spend the evening together Monday watching the ball drop. But on New Year’s Day, he and his family are taking part in a Ware family tradition. Dad, son Tyler, 14, son Blake, 12, and daughter Jaylan, 11, are going on a rabbit hunt.

Mom Kim won’t go, however. She plans on some peace and quiet for herself by just staying home.

“I just wish that 2013 is a good year for everybody,” Chris Ware sent out to all.