A new year

New Years Eve is a big deal to the Scots – we call it Hogmanay and it must be celebrated.
There are all sorts of traditions and superstitions surrounding the last day of the old year – first day of the new year transition. I’m only slightly superstitious so I don’t feel the need to open the back door to let the old year out, or to make as much noise as possible to scare away evil.

The traditions though, I like to hold on to as many of those as possible.

My favourite New Years tradition when I was a kid – and when my parents could be bothered celebrating – was the first footing.
First footing is where a friend or family member comes to your door as soon after midnight as they can, bringing gifts of food, drink and coal to ensure prosperity in the year ahead. It has to be a handsome male with dark hair, anyone else is not good luck – I liked this tradition because it meant we had to stay up even later to welcome the visitors and we got to eat the cake or candy portion of the gift 😉

My dad has black hair, so he would often go out and be this ‘first footer’ for our nearby family and our neighbours – then I’d try to stay awake for him coming home to hear all his stories and (always bad) jokes.
I don’t think as many people go first footing now, and living in America the tradition does not exist over here. It’s a shame really, it was a good tradition, one filled with good will to others and one designed to keep you in touch with your neighbours. Neighborhoods are not as close as they used to be. I wish we could bring that back.

The tradition we are keeping alive, and passing on to our children, is ‘seeing in The Bells’ which means staying up ’til midnight to welcome in the first moments of a brand new year.

On Hogmanay we celebrate all the good that happened in the departing year and we remember those no longer with us. We raise a glass and toast the health and happiness of friends and family and wish for a good year for all. We look to the future with joy, enthusiasm, and hope.
We share food and stories, we drink and we laugh, and inevitably we sing.

Hogmanay is a celebration of life.

6pm Texas time is midnight UK time – so every year since we moved here, we charge our glasses and watch the clock, and toast the New Year as it arrives in Scotland.

Here’s tae us, wha’s like us?
Gie few,
And they’re a’ deid.


Elf on the Shelf

I first heard about Elf on the Shelf last year via Pinterest.
If you are a pinner or have a loved one who is a pinner, you probably know that there’s crazy stuff and crazy people out there!
So my introduction to this particular brand new Christmas tradition was somewhat tainted by funny little stories like, oh the elf was naughty and left a huge mess all over the kitchen when he baked cookies last night.
Surely (I thought) people have enough to do in the run up to December 25th without inventing stuff for a plastic elf to do each night, especially if that task adds extra work to the next day!
Oh naughty elf, you left little footprints across the bathroom sink! I know I can’t touch you, so we’ll all wash our hands in the kitchen and I’ll clean the bathroom after you leave tonight!

I didn’t think I’d touch this idea with a barge pole.

But then the teacher of my youngest discovered that her elf has decided to visit the first graders in class for a week – and the kids were ECSTATIC!
They hurry around the room each morning as they put their jackets and backpacks away, eager to know where the elf, whose name is Austin, has positioned himself for maximum spying opportunities.

And I found myself in the bookstore this morning, contemplating a purchase.

My seventh grader has offered to be my sidekick. My first grader would be beyond excited to find a visiting elf in her very own house. My boy probably wouldn’t care, but he’s (always) another story (and I mean that in a good way, I think.)

It comes with a book we’d have to sit and read together – and I am ALL promoting reading. Every chance.

The only reason I did not come home with a creepy looking little guy dressed in red felt, was that I’m Scottish… and the price tag made pain shoot right through my DNA.
$30? I could buy three books with that!