Happy New Year! The image above is a postcard from my collection -- in my B.C. life ("before children") I collected antique postcards. I purchased this one, with its sweet and shivery finches and bluebirds, for $1.50 in 1994. It's postmarked 1908 and is still vibrant and pretty.
I've heard that some families make family resolutions on New Year's Day, although we don't. We enjoy watching the Rose Parade and every year I mention that someday I would like to attend it in person.
We have a couple of festive after-dinner traditions. For years now we've had Christmas crackers -- obviously, it's New Year's Day, not Christmas, but that's what I call them. Years ago I planned to have them after our Christmas dinner, and in all the excitement of the day I forgot about them! So that was the first year I brought them out for New Year's, and I've stuck with that ever since.
I make the crackers myself, so moving them to the week after Christmas makes my life a little easier in mid-December. They're easy to make -- I just cut paper towel tubes in half, fill each with candy, silly riddles, and a small toy, wrap in pretty paper and tie with ribbons. You can even buy the special strip that makes the "popping" sound, but I've never bothered. Usually I wrap the crackers in a variety of papers and let everyone pick one, but this year I used the same paper and we played a game from The Penny Whistle Christmas Party Book by Meredith Brokaw and Annie Gilbar. We each held a cracker and I read the following story. The crackers were passed to the left or right whenever the words "right" or "left" were read.
This is a story about Mr. and Mrs. Wright. One evening they were baking cookies. Mrs. Wright called from the kitchen, "Oh, no, there is no flour left! You will need to go to the store."
And so on. At first it was funny but it got annoying quickly, so I think next year we will either skip this step or I'll come up with an abbreviated version of the story.
After the crackers we have Fortune Cakes for dessert. These are cupcakes (homemade this year, but not always) decorated with good luck symbols taped to toothpicks.
Each cupcake has two wrappers, and hidden in between the wrappers is a coin. You get to keep whatever coin you get, and whoever finds the shiny penny gets a prize -- a small bag of gold-wrapped chocolates! (By the way, if you are all out of shiny pennies, soak one in vinegar for a bit and it will brighten up.)
And every year we end this first day of the new year by watching the New Year's Concert from Vienna on our local PBS station, grinning and clapping through the Radetzky March.
Best wishes for 2011!