Sunday, January 1, 2012

Did I Ever Tell Y'all 'Bout the New Year's Day When....


Years ago, when me an' Uncle were still young twigs in our first home, we's all about settin' ourselves up wif' the very best of our respective traditions. Most of 'em meshed well, since we's both of the ole timey Southern persuasion.

On New Year's Day in much of the South the
de rigueur menu includes black-eyed peas, greens an' ham (or pork of some variety). In our home it be collard greens 'cause I doan wanna wash the dirt outa them hairy mustard greens, an iffin' ya' git turnip greens somebody is shure to expect ya' to put the turnips in the greens. Aunty ain't friendly wif' turnips.

Now in some parts, it is customary to hide a dime in the peas an' whoever gits the dime in their peas is shure to have a prosperous year. Ever'body knows this.

It t'were a gorgeous day that January long ago, an' we had a few folks joinin' us fer the New Year's Day feast, a BYB and the SEC football extravaganza. We's wuz poor, our dinin' room empty of any firnishin's, no table 'cept in the dinky kitchen. What we done wuz set up TV tables in front of the sofa, and chairs. It din't matter much 'cause the menfolk wanted food
wif' football games an' thar's no way I'd git 'em into a dinin' room anyhow.

I'se real happy pilin' up plates wif' all the home cooked goodness a new wife wants to show off. I hurried back an' forth from the kitchen to the Florida Room ( a closed in porch) with steamin' bowls of greens an' Hoppin' John (Blackeyed peas in rice), an' trays of buttered cornbread. I coulda been a runner-up to Flo at Mel's Diner.

The fellas is all whoopin' an shoutin', stuffin' dollar bill bets in a burlap sack left over from some pecans we'd gotten as a gift. Oh! It were a good kind o' rowdiness goin' on.

By the time Aunty finished slinging plates fer guests an' sat down to her own plate of Hoppin' John some folks had already started on desert. Uncle wuz still moppin' up his bowl wif a bit of cornbread, his eyes glued to the TV.

I sat on the floor next to his chair, laigs folded under me, like a happy hen on her nest. "Aloyisus, Honey, how'd ya' like them greens?" I purred.

"Uhmmm," he allowed, never takin' his eyes from the ballgame.

"I think I got the right amount of crustiness on the edge of the cornbread, doan'cha think?" I tried again, hoping fer some small favor of his attention.

"Uh-hummmm," Uncle nodded, his eyes fixed to the screen.

I seen he wuz down to the last bite of his peas. I set mah own bowl down on the floor an' started to rise, "Lemme git'cha some more Hoppin' John, Honey," I said. "Did'ja find yore dime?"

His eyes cut sideways an' his mouth stopped mid chew. From the side of his mouth he squeaked, "What dime?"

I stood thar' hands at mah side. I felt a little bit cold all of a sudden.

What dime, Belle?" His voice a pleading growl.

"The good luck dime, Aloysius? The one we hide in the peas on New Year's....fer a prosperous new year," I said, mah voice fadin' wif' each word.

He swished the contents of his mouth around some, then swallowed, his eyes searchin' down in his bowl. When he lifted his head I seen a look I ain't never seen a'fore, the frantic look of a man who knows he has a serious elimination situation.

"You insane, girl?
Dimes is fer Jukeboxes not fer a man's peas!"

Uncle doan want y'all to be in no suspense. He reminded me that when he called, the doc said, "Doan worry none, son, ever'thang will come out all right."

* * *

The menu today includes fresh caught lake Perch (sac-au-lait, if youse Cajun) , but no Hoppin' John.


Intuitive Eggplant said...

Bwahahaha, Aunty. Another fine tale, and thanks for my virtual helping of Hoppin' John! I already feel I'll prosper in 2012 thanks to you and my other bloggy friends, whose kindnesses are worth their weight in gold. Scout, who is sitting on my lap as I type, says thanks for your prayers that helped him return home safely. I second that, and look forward to a new year filled with more of your yarns.

xoxo, eggy

foam said...

Well, as I type I have the black eyed peas, the collard greens, pork simmering on the oven. I was bout to hope up and add a dime which I had never done in the past. But I decided to finish reading first. I am glad I did so.

Happy new year!

foam said...

Gad typos, eh?

Anonymous said...

OMG Aunty your post was hilarious! Your poor husband! (That poor dime!) Always a pleasure to meet a fellow southerner & hope you have a great New Year!

moi said...

Heh. AND, you're still married. So everything DID turn out all right :o)

Hope 2012 brings you and uncle many more moments of merriment!

Boxer said...


LaDivaCucina said...

Heeeeeheeeee! Well, the DIME sho nuff got his attention, finally! I can just imagine you scurrying about with the plates of steaming food waiting for approval and confirmation of all your hard work. What a great story, Aunty! Hope you have a wonderful and prosperous New Year, full of good health and happiness!

fishy said...

Well dern, am I the only fool who still puts a dime for luck in the black eyed peas?

Thats a fine story to start the new year wif Aunty, thanky for sharing. Who won the game that year?

Karl said...

Good afternoon Aunty Belle,

I've heard of putting a silver dollar under a mast, but the change in food. You could killed the pour guy. I hope you washed it well before putting it in. Some traditions are best left to the past. I think that's one of them.

You tell him I'm glad he survived, so I can wish to both of you a Happy New Year.

Curmudgeon said...

I've been told, as a child, I ate more change than a cigarette vending machine produced in a week. It might explain a few things. Did Uncle act any different after the change. (I crack me up. I just wet myself laughing at that one.)

They used to put a coin in plum pudding in England too. I imagine that's where that tradition came from.

Anonymous said...

Dimes in peas, babies in King Cake, lucky coins in other food items. I guess it is best to let others know the traditions before serving...

Must have been a nice shiny dime when it re-emerged. Good thing about a dime is it is smooth, round edged and small. Nothing to hang up on anything on the trip through.

I really got a chuckle out of this one. A great rendition of the tale!