HOW PROFOUNDLY I experience my mother’s spirit this time of the year, when her love of the holiday season exists with palpable force. She has been gone from us since 2013 and yet a thousand times this December I have thought of her, felt her presence, heard her voice in my ear.
I hung the wreathes with the bows at the top, as she instructed.
I placed her beautiful needlepoint pillows on every bed.
I reached for recipes written in her hand, most so familiar I hardly needed the reference.
And I made one-hundred-million containers of Chex Mix, using her special methodology, which we consumed—then and now—by the gallon.
I felt her, too, as we gathered for Christmas dinner. How Mom loved to bring family and friends together around her dining room table; how pleased I know her to be when I do the same.
All of which is to say, just this morning, as I awoke to early light and began to plan my day—the last of 2021—I did it according to the traditions and superstitions of one Posey Rigg. Got to get the trees down, I remembered, as it’s bad luck to leave them up beyond midnight on New Year’s Eve!
It is a controversial topic, I will admit. But Mom was always superstitious, due, I suppose, to her Appalachian heritage. Mountain traditions have been handed generation to generation, and this is exactly the reason I follow her beliefs, no doubt, even if in truth I am far more drawn to Twelfth Night customs that include leaving up the tree through the marking of Epiphany. I love the custom and it makes sense: January 6th is the date on which Christians believe the kings visited the Christ Child, and thus it is the day of Christ’s physical manifestation to the Gentiles. While we never did this in my family, it is also the date many old-time mountain folk consider “Old Christmas,” the real Christmas, and a day filled with revelry, feasting, bonfires and the like. Also—and this is particularly swell—Appalachian tradition notes that animals are given the gift of talk at midnight of Epiphany. I love that.
Leave the tree up for these magnificent Twelfth Night markings? Yes I say!
Except that I won’t.
I’m signing off now, in fact, to get to the business of de-decorating.
I will not tempt fate.
I cannot forego my mother’s traditions, thus risk beginning my new year on any wrong foot, superstition or not. After the years we’ve had, 2020 and 2021? You’d better believe I want to head into 2022 with every ounce of good luck I can muster.
I wish the same for you. Happiest New Year to you wherever you are, however you are marking this transition.
Happy, happy New Year, dear friends!
PS: I will be watching and listening for the magic of the animals at Midnight on January 5th, which will come as a surprise to exactly nobody. I hope you will join me!