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From the Publisher's Desk – All jowls gasped open with horror (Jan. 6, 2016 issue)

How many stayed up to welcome in the New Year last week with a verse of “Auld Lang Syne”? I did attend a small gathering at a friend’s house and managed to stay awake for the duration but no singing occurred.
There have only been a few times that I have waited up to welcome in a new year at the stroke of midnight. I figure I have an entire year to celebrate the arrival without getting behind on sleep the first day.
I did watch the year 2000 come in. There had been so much hype over what would happen to computer systems rolling forward into a new century and even the possibility the world would come to an end. Being in the news business, I didn’t want to miss that.
I do recall hosting a New Year’s Eve party several years ago, with a few close friends in attendance. We played games, had lots of food and waited on the magic moment.
Most New Year’s Eve parties eventually gather around the TV before midnight to watch the ball drop in New York City. The TV reception was horrible on Spivey. We had joined with the trend of the times by installing one of those large mesh satellite dishes in the back yard. This is nothing like the small receivers of today. This large beast was about 12 feet around and looked like it could make contact with life on other planets.
The dish was controlled from a device in the home, which caused it to pivot on its base outside and align with satellites transmitting from somewhere in space. As the dish would slowly move to the selected location, a channel would briefly come in from each satellite it passed along the way. Once it stopped on a particular satellite, there were numerous channels available.
Let me briefly pause here to say that home TV satellites were still new and nothing had been blocked from viewing which was available to be viewed. The sky was the limit.
“Hurry up and get the TV on,” one of our guests exclaimed. “That’s the wrong channel. Turn it to ABC,” another voice said. All guests gathered around the TV in excited anticipation with a raised glass of sparkling cider in hand.
The satellite slowly moved to its selected designation, while passing channels faded in and out along its pivotal descent.
Then, all of a sudden, mouths gapped open in shock. Gasps were heard from the guests as an uncomfortable silence filled the air. There, before our eyes, was an X-rated channel with a wild sex scene in progress. It seemed as though time stood still. The satellite was still moving to its selected location but the scene was frozen for what seemed like an eternity.
After the horror, everyone tried to laugh it off and the dense air got a little lighter. We did make it to the countdown channel in time, but it paled in comparison to the celebration we had just witnessed. I don’t think that I have had as memorable a New Year since and I doubt our guests have.
Come to think of it, that was the last time we hosted such a party. Some traditions are better not repeated.
However, there are many traditions to follow in welcoming the new year. Many serve the traditional hog jowls, black-eyed peas and collard greens.
Black-eyed peas is the only one out of the three that I have tried. The first time I ever had them was at an aunt’s house. I didn’t say anything because I thought she had burned them. I proceeded to eat and tried to not make her feel any worse than I thought she must already feel.
Eating hog jowls is supposed to ensure health, prosperity and progress. The peas represent good luck and the greens represent money. I guess failure to eat such explains why I am lacking in all those areas.
Don’t wash clothes on New Year’s day. Some super-cautious won’t even wash the dishes on New Year’s day.
There should be no bare cupboards. Fill up the cupboards before New Year’s day, otherwise that could be typical of the New Year.
Open the doors at midnight, as this will let out all the bad from the previous year. Make some noise. This will scare away the evil spirits from entering your life in the next year.
There isn’t a lot we can do about the weather, but superstition holds that if the wind is out of the south there will be prosperous times ahead. The wind out of the east means famine and calamities and out of the north means a bad year for weather. Out of the west means plenty of milk and fish. Calm winds mean a prosperous and joyful year for all.
With all of that being said, let’s get back to our song. “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?”
What in the “black-eyed peas” does that mean? That makes about as much sense as any of the previously mentioned superstitions and traditions.
I read that the title of the Scottish tune translates to “times gone by” and is about remembering friends from the past and not letting them be forgotten. It was written by Robert Burns in the 1700s and never intended to be a holiday song.
Guy Lombardo is credited with popularizing the song when his band used it as a transition between two radio programs during a live performance at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929. By coincidence, they played “Auld Lang Syne” just after the clock hit midnight, and a New Year’s tradition was born.
Whatever your tradition, I hope you have a great year ahead and that 2016 brings unity, growth, jobs, prosperity and much happiness to you, your family and our great county.