Well Christmas has come and gone in a flash and we are now it seems hurtling towards the New Year before everything returns to normal. In Scotland the New Year has always been a good excuse for a big celebration. When I was younger in our house there was always a party to which neighbour’s friends and anyone visiting with friends were invited to pop in. The whole house was cleaned before the event to get rid of the old and make way for the new. Throughout the neighbourhood you would see curtains being hung out, windows and doorsteps washed. Ginger wine would be made from co-operative bought ginger wine syrup to which you added water and sugar and hey presto you then had a ginger concoction to put in nice dark brown bottles, especially bought for the job to make it look and taste very authentic. It wouldn’t have tasted the same out of a clear bottle! Lots of finger foods were baked, shortbread being a firm favourite .To make sure good luck befell your home in the New Year someone tall and dark, preferably male, as usually no female would ever be as daft to volunteer, was put outside to make sure that your “first footer” that is the first person to step over the threshold in the New Year came bearing appropriate gifts to bring the household good fortune for the following year. He had to carry food and drink and have a piece of coal in his pocket. The idea being that your home would always have enough to eat, drink and heat it through the year. He would be made to go outside about five minutes before midnight and stand to wait on the bells before being allowed to knock and re-enter. It didn’t matter if it was raining, snowing or blowing a gale it was considered to be very unlucky not to follow this procedure. Of course chances were that you would get plenty of visitors after the bells and they would all bring food and drink but most households never left it to chance. So all around the neighbourhood if you had looked you would have seen poor tall, dark guys and the occasional small ginger one if they had not been lucky enough to find someone tall and dark, anxiously waiting for the first peel of the New Year Bells but you wouldn’t have been looking as inside the party would be in full swing .In the corner the television would be on and this was to make sure that we had the time right. When the camera cut to Edinburgh and the canon we knew that it was time to open the back door. This was done to let the old year out and when the canon blasted in the New Year along with Big Ben in London we would open the front door to let in the New Year and the by now frozen and most likely soaked, first footer who had been huddled there waiting on being allowed back it.My grandmother also insisted that we all write down our New Year resolutions before the bells and honoured them after. These could be anything but for my grandmother it was always the same, to stop smoking. Each year she was full of good intentions and believed that the power of the New Year gave you energy to follow through with your goal. She actively encouraged me to follow through with mine and in a way she was my New Year power. Her belief was so strong that it would work that I never questioned why it didn’t for her and the strange thing was that it always worked for me. Now looking back I realise it was thanks to her that a New Year meant the chance of a fresh start for me. Anything I had wanted to do or had not yet done was encouraged to be put down and I was told just focus on three this year and see how you get on. It made it all possible for me and gave me the energy and fire I needed to follow through. My grandmother made the New Year magical. A time when it was possible to let go the old and begin afresh.
Today in my own home I continue the tradition of letting out the old year and bringing in the New. I leave coal by the front door for our guests to lift and bring a piece in but I have never put a poor soul out in to the night to await the bells. I still write my New Year resolutions down and still believe totally that anyone of us can begin afresh and learn how to be what it is that we want to be at any time in our lives. If we are doing things which make us or others feel bad it is possible to change. You don’t need a New Year; you just need to want to and to believe that you can. But for me there is still a certain magic in deciding on what I want for the year ahead and I have learned that if I believe enough in my own ability and keep my New Year resolutions clear, straightforward and most importantly of all something that I really want to achieve, then the magic of the fresh New Year really works. It gives me the energy, drive and determination to see them through. You might like to try it and see if it does the same for you. As Tony Robbins says “Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives”
To be happy in our lives and to make those around us happy we need to find ways to empower ourselves and make positive life changes and decisions. Perhaps this New Year you can choose to take the first step to creating a healthier, happier you.
Whatever you are doing this New Year I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all Health, Happiness and good fortune for 2014