Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year

January Sunrise
11" x 14"
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It's here. Another year. 2008. What will it bring? We hope for the good things-good health, happiness, prosperity, peace, wisdom, friendship, kindness, security, success and good things in life, for each of you.
The above painting was actually done last January as the sun rose, and a cloud , the leading edge of a cold front, rolled over us. The deep orange sun seemed to push a little place up through the cloud so that it could peek through.
My grandson and I had our breakfast together and he was off to school. I got out my watercolors and painted at the dinette table during the morning.
I thought it was interesting that, at the same time as I was painting this, Virginia Vaughan was painting this same front coming through, only from her vantage point at her home about 100 miles to the west.
We didn't do much today to celebrate. We all slept late. The family went to a friend's house last night, after all, and so I saw the New Year in with the dog, the cats, the tv, and the neighbors' displays of fireworks all around me. Those bursts of fireworks looked like what I see normally when I look outside at the lights at night. (See yesterday's post for how I see outdoor lights.)
I don't remember much of a celebration for New Year's Day when I was growing up. The stores would close.
My great-aunt, "Toot", seemed to enjoy New Year's Day more than anyone I knew. She would get up really early, as usual, fix breakfast and then her husband would putter around the house or leave to get the mail, check his grocery store, or whatever he did on days when he didn't work. And that was really rare.
"Toot" would do her daily cleaning, telephone calling, and whatever she needed to do. Then she would fix dinner (we had dinner at noon in our part of the country) of black eyed peas, maybe a Jello salad, ham or maybe hash if she had roast left over from Sunday, corn bread, and coffee or water to drink-maybe custard or milk toast for dessert. She would set up a card table in the everyday room, which they later called a den, and set up two places with everyday china, silverware, and glasses. She put a little bridge cloth over the table, then put placemats down and the larger napkins that her husband liked to use.
Once the table was ready and dinner was cooking, she would sit in the everyday room on her chair to watch the parades on tv. She wasn't idle, though. She would still be working on something. Snapping peas into a bowl, darning socks, or even just reading through a seed catalogue.
Her favorite parade was the Rose Bowl Parade. She loved flowers and kept a large yard that she was very proud of. She watched intently as they told how the floats were made with flowers and sometimes decided on a kind of rose or plant that she wanted to add to her own yard. She also enjoyed the Cotton Bowl parade from Dallas, but her favorite was the Rose Bowl. Of course, she loved roses, so that made it very special to her.
"Honey", her husband, would come home to eat and they would watch the news or the end of the parade, if it was still on. He would leave to take care of whatever he did, sometimes taking a nap in the bedroom next to the everyday room where the tv was. "Toot" would take the dishes to the kitchen, take down the table until the next party or 42 game, wash the dishes and clean up the kitchen. Then she would spread a quilt on the everyday room floor and stretch out on the quilt to take a little rest while she watched "As The World Turns" and "General Hospital".
Sometimes I would stretch out with her. We would read "Life", "Liberty", "Good Housekeeping", "House Beautiful", "Home and Garden", and movie magazines, and "Readers Digest". And, sometimes, I fell asleep. She didn't. When her soap opera was over, she was up and getting ready to go visiting or have callers come to her house.
It wasn't anything so spectacular or unusual, but that is the way that New Years Day went. It was another day, and another parade, but a time when they could rest from their work with the grocery store and around the house.
"Honey" got up every morning at 4 a.m. He had, at one time, driven 60 miles, each way, to a city to buy fresh produce to sell in his store. "Toot" got up with him and gave him breakfast before he left. The store was open until 6:00 in the evening, like the other stores. Then the fire whistle blew and everyone closed their businesses and went home for supper. Later that time was changed to 5, to correspond with cities. Business was down, by then, so there was no reason to stay open if there were no customers on the street.
At my grandfather's house, New Years Day was also a day to rest up for the family. It was a day when they could spend more time checking the cattle, reading the paper with their shoes off, and a day to watch many football games on tv, instead of having to spend all day at the dry goods store. Of course, they still went to the store fairly early to check on things, and see if anyone might be there needing something from the store. Before Grandma died, they always had a big dinner (at noon, remember), that included black eyed peas for luck.
I was always offered a plate, but I always declined the offer, saying that I was eating at home, or I wasn't hungry. I was not about to eat any of those vegetables, no matter how much bad luck it might bring me! Everyone knew that, but they still tried all kinds of tricks to make me eat things that were just plain disgusting to me.
At our house, Mama cooked the required meal for good luck, I drank my milk and ate a piece of fruit. Daddy was busy helping with the cattle or working on something out in the back yard, while Mama went on with her usual day. Daddy would watch some of the bowl games on tv, but he was not just sitting there, glued to the set. He would be in and out of the house, and want us to tell him if he missed anything. Of course, as soon as he left, we turned the tv to something that we wanted to watch.
For me, New Years Day meant that it was just that much closer to having to go back to school. And the anxiety started growing. My stomach tightened and started hurting. I felt a bit of a panic. It also meant that, not only was there a new year, but I was closer to being another year older. And that was a good thing, back in those days.

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