Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Wish for a New Year

I don't want it to be easy. It never is anyway. The folks up in Williams Cemetery plot on the mountain behind the house...They've got it easy. Nobody ever got better when it was easy. Try asking anybody up there.

I want this year to be hard, just not too hard. In the end, all we have are memories and we almost never remember the easy days. What we do remember is getting through the hard stuff and coming out on the other side of challenges.

Truman Capote, a fairly miserable man, said, "There is no such thing as a happy human."

My Gramma on my Mom's side was never happy unless she was miserable, so not only would she agree with Truman...She was happy for him.

Gramma's life was hard. Her husband died when he was 40 and left her with three children and the rent due on a patch of worn out dirt in Lovett, Ga, a town so miserable that it doesn't even exist anymore, washed away by the O'hoopee river in a moment of tender mercy. Winter's and by default, New Year's Day were tough.

That old story about eating blackeyed peas and greens for dinner on New Year's Day bringing good luck is sort of true. It actually meant that you were lucky enough to have something to eat in the middle of winter even if it was just dried peas and greens. It meant that you had worked your field last Summer and put up peas for the Winter, and that was lucky. It meant that you had tended the turnip patch and hauled manure so that the leaves would be big enough by real cold weather that you could have fresh turnip greens all Winter when you didn't have anything else. That was lucky, too.

Gramma lived to be about 90 and was the funniest person I ever knew...Especially when she was miserable. She called unhappy people "Boresome." I remember her wiping her eyes at funerals as she told some hilarious story on the dead person. Every bad day was a new war story to be rehashed by the fire when it got real cold. Life was supposed to be about getting through it and laughing your ass off every time you got half a chance.

You know that old saying about "What doesn't Kill us only makes us stronger?" Gramma thought of those times as new material, and that was lucky for us kids, listening as we stood rotating by the open fire with one side freezing and the other side roasting in one of those old, drafty, uninsulated farmhouses that New Years Day dinner seemed to wind up at in Georgia on my Momma's side.

Anyway, those folks always seemed to be happy, even when they were miserable, and they were always lucky enough to have turnip greens and black eyed peas. One thing they never had was "easy" and I'm not so sure that wasn't a lucky thing.

So my best wishes to all of you for the New Year...I don't think it's going to be easy...It might even be hard.

Maybe We'll be Lucky.




  1. Anonymous1:07 PM

    Keep writing like that and you can have several helpings!

    --mountain laureate

  2. And this is why I keep coming back to Steve's place. A dandy wordsmith is hard to find and a good storyteller even harder.

    Thanks for kickstarting my new year, Steve.

  3. Jeff D-D9:59 AM

    its 13 below zero here this morning, generally referred to in these parts as "a bit chilly". Most places, there is in excess of two feet of snow on the ground, but right outside my window is a patch of bare ground about a foot square. Its a tiny patch of exposed bedrock that transmits enough heat to the surface to melt the snow. A great reminder that there is always more than meets the eye.

    All my parents and grandparents died in the very late fall or early December. I always figured it was their way of opting out of facing another northern New York winter. No - you're right - life was never meant to be easy. Laughing at ourselves is a great gift...it makes the pain bearable and gives others permission to laugh also. Keep up the good work Steve.