December 29, 2004

on abandoned trees and auld lang syne

My heart grew heavy this morning as trees stripped bare of their decorations awaiting the wood chipper littered my path to the subway. I expect more of the same in the coming days and frankly, it depresses me. Sometimes a lone bit of tinsel still clings to a branch further eliciting my pity. What once contributed to a cozy, comforting and festive display now seems sad, lonely and pathetic. I genuinely adore the Christmas blitz but the post-holiday schrapnel, the bombed-out looking store aisles and barren shelves sporting those yellow and red half-price tags make me sad and wistful. Don't even get me started on the premature stocking of Valentine's Day crap. It makes me absolutely cranky.

However, in an effort to extend the shelf-life of my holiday spirit and make this blog somewhat educational, I'm going to give you a wee lesson in how the Scottish folk celebrate the New Year (also known as Hogmanay). By singing "Auld Lang Syne," you're already gettin' your Scottish on somewhat but here are a few more tidbits in case you want to inject some more of my people's traditions into your festivities.

After the clock strikes 12, people throughout Scotland visit family and friends bearing gifts of food and drink in a tradition called "first footing." Ah, but there's a catch... not just anyone is welcome to pass through the threshold. I mean, everyone is welcome to visit but ideally, the "first foot" through the door should belong to that of a dark-haired man. Anything less is considered bad luck. My father, in his younger days, had hair as black as pitch and was promptly ordered by my Granny to exit and enter the house at midnight. Feel free to shove your favorite brunette or raven-haired fella out into the cold to keep up the tradition. If he complains, I got your back.

So, to you and yours, I wish you a very Happy New Year. And remember... if it's not Scottish, it's CRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAP!