How will you celebrate New Years Day? Well, let me tell you about my family tradition.
My maternal grandparents – George & Mary Watson migrated from Cleveland, MS. When relatives migrated from the south they would stay with my grandparents for a little while until they found a place of their own.
Mary (aka – Bigmama) felt it was very important for the family to gather for the first dinner of the New Year. It started with just my grandparents and their children. As my mom & her siblings began to have families of their own the tradition continued & grew. My parents, uncles, aunts and first cousins would gather at Bigmama’s house. Our extended family lived close by – great grandmother and a great aunt lived around the corner, other great aunts & uncles lived downstairs and next door and other cousins. It wasn’t long before the family dinner grew to an annual New Years Dinner at Bigmama’s house. You could not bring a dish to the dinner. Bigmama took pride in cooking for everybody. Since the house was small, we all made sure we got there early to get a seat or be first in line to get food.
When it was time to get started, we all gathered around in a circle, which expanded into two rooms. We began with a song, “Don’t Forget The Family Prayer”. The lyrics were – “Don’t forget the family prayer, the Lord would love to meet you there. When we gather in the evening, please don’t forget the family prayer”. After the song, Bigmama would lead off in prayer for the family and the rest of us would join in. Looking back now, those were some powerful prayers.
Mealtime! The menu consisted of Blackeyed Peas, Cabbage, Sweet Potatoes, Chitterlings, Corn Bread & a homemade cake.
After a while Bigmama’s place was too small. The families had grown tremendously and she was getting older. Then one day she came to me and said she need to pass the baton and wanted me to carry it on. So, for the past 15+ years I have hosted New Year’s Dinner. The menu has changed slightly – no more chitterlings!
This is one family legacy even though the crowd has dwindled, I enjoy carrying it forward and will one day pass the baton. But for now, I do it with love and for its tradition and family legacy.
Happy New Year from Mississippi Rooted!