LESLIE CRISS: Peas, hog jowls, greens make for odd tradition



“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.”

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better person.”

Benjamin Franklin

I’m not one to make a lot of resolutions. I’ve never taken a liking to black-eyed peas. I know, it’s all a matter of individual taste, but my tastebuds have always told me black-eyed peas of any denomination – frozen, fresh or canned – taste a lot like dirt.

And hog jowls. What’s up with that?

Now, I can eat greens all day long, as long as I have some of my dad’s homemade pepper sauce as an accompaniment.

Often as a new year approaches, I’m prone to a bit of reflection, thinking on the year about to end and, perhaps, wondering how I might help make the year ahead somehow better.

So rather than resolve to do a bunch of things I’ll likely soon forget, I’ll resolve simply to try to make some things happen as we cross over into 2014 and move closer to 2015.

• 2013, for many reasons, was difficult for lots of folks for whom I care. Death claimed loved ones, diagnoses brought apprehension.

I will try to become a better, more supportive and more present friend to these friends – and to others – in the coming year.

• After many periods of procrastination, I will try to complete in 2014 a non-fiction literary project on which I have been working. I know if I would work on it daily, I could finish it quickly. So, I will try to set aside a specific time and make myself be diligent and disciplined, devoting that time to finishing this project.

• I will try to complete the reading of at least one book each month. As much as I love reading, I have allowed my life to become so harried that I often will start a book and not finish it. That’s not because the book did not grab my attention. I simply did not make reading a priority.

• I will try to do more walking in 2014. I live in a nice neighborhood, near a great walking track. There’s really no excuse for not moving more.

Back to the black-eyed peas.

My grandfather used to tell me you’d make a dollar in the coming year for every pea consumed on New Year’s Day.

Now, I ask you, how many peas would one have to eat to just break even? Too many.

Truth is, I’ve choked down some peas in years past, but nothing financially fabulous found me in the 365 days to follow. So what, really, is the point? Let those who find peas palatable ponder their power. I shall pass.

And I’m drawing the line at hog jowls, too.

Still and yet, Happy New Year.