Happy New Year!

By Martha Rhynes
My first date on New Year’s Eve was an important event in my life. In retrospect, I am surprised that my parents allowed me, a fourteen year old girl, to accept a date to a movie with a boy they did not know. During World War II, our family had moved to Houston from a small town in North Texas so Dad could supervise construction of a pipeline to the Sinclair refinery on the ship channel. I attended Mirabeau B. Lamar High School with 2,000 other students. Perhaps Mom and Dad thought a little social activity would cheer me up and help me adjust to city life. They were not movie fans, but they assumed that the largest movie theater in Houston would be a good place for their daughter’s first date.

The boy who invited me arranged a double date. The plan was for the four of us to ride the city bus downtown, attend the movie, and ride the bus home. All went well until we arrived at the Majestic Theater and discovered that the movie was sold out. The boys decided to buy tickets to the late show, even though it meant we’d see a different film and get home later.

January weather in Houston is always damp and chilly, so while we waited, the four of us window-shopped and admired the glittering ornaments on display in downtown stores. Believe me. Strolling arm-in-arm down Main Street with a cute, popular, athletic youth was a thrilling experience for this fourteen year old girl.

When we returned to the theater, we stood at the front of the line and got good seats. The elaborate oriental décor of the Majestic Theater was awesome. The movie, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, starring Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken, was funny at first, and we laughed a lot. But the four of us became silent and uncomfortable after the plot took an embarrassing turn. Betty Hutton discovered she was pregnant. Her quintuplets (the miracle) were possibly fathered by soldiers she had met during a drunken party. Eddie Bracken, her 4-F boyfriend, saved the day by marrying her. The movie was not funny. Instead, the reality of sex had a sobering effect.

Silently, we walked to the bus stop to return home, only to discover that city busses had quit running at eleven. The boys tried to hail cabs, but no drivers would stop. Then my date decided to call his mother, so we went into the lobby of a hotel and waited while he telephoned her from a phone booth. No answer. The other boy got the same result. Their parents were at New Year’s Eve parties. The girl called her mother, who did not have access to a car. I knew that I should call my parents, but I did not have any money in my purse, and I was too embarrassed to ask my date for a dime to use the pay phone.

We walked around the block several times, but it had turned cold and started to drizzle, so we returned to the hotel. The night clerk frowned and asked us to leave, but after my date explained our problem, the man allowed us to remain in the lobby. My date continued to telephone his mother every fifteen minutes. The other boy and girl dozed off on the leather-covered furniture. Finally my date’s mother answered her phone and drove the four of us home.

The porch light was on at my house. I dreaded facing my parents, but my date and his mother came inside with me to explain. Mother and Dad had been frantic with worry but refrained from calling the police because “something” told them I was all right. They had been impressed by my date’s appearance and behavior when he called for me earlier in the evening. My unforgettable New Year’s Eve date was the beginning of a lifelong relationship. I eventually married the boy who invited me.

By Loretta Yin
The house was being cleaned from top to bottom. New clothes were ready for the family and the servants -- particularly new shoes, since the ground was sacred because of the New Year. Dirt was not permitted to touch the sacred ground.

The kitchen was bustling with activities. All of us were pitching in to help Cook, even me, the eight year old 'missy.' Normally, Papa told us not to get into the kitchen so that our clothes would not get dirty by cooking grease, etc. But this was an exceptional time of the year.

My job was to make little Chinese fold-over omelets with fillings. The cook and Mama had set up a small burner for me in one comer of the large kitchen. I was to make a batch of small egg pancakes, filling them with meats, and fold them over to resemble ancient gold Ingots. Cook would, then, use them to prepare one of the many, many dishes. Every dish signifies 'good luck, or 'good fortune', or 'happiness', or 'long life', etc. -- all things good.

During the first three days of the New Year, fire was not to be built, nor knives to be used. This was to avoid violence and disaster -- one of the many traditions we observed. There were to be many, many dishes prepared, enough to feed the family, the helpers, and the relatives and friends who happen to drop by.

On the fourth day, after we welcomed back our "Kitchen God," the kitchen will then resume its normal activities.

Happy New Year!

By Mel Hut
A holiday that can be disastrous or joy full. Most of our New Years Eves were spent with another couple. We were either at their house or our house all night. We played cards and had festive games along with our offspring.

He and I figured that New Years Eve was amateur night and kept off the highways.

I miss the ability to stay up so late any night, even New Years Eve. My birthday follows not long after that. Now that I am 'over eighty five and still alive.' The celebrations are milder and more sober. Our holiday enjoyment now is observing the fun our offspring and their children have during the holidays.

Happy New Year everyone!

By Stephen B. Bagley
I always make New Year's resolutions. Year after year after year. Not because I expect to keep them because I never do, but because I think the desire to do better, to keep improving and growing, needs expression and effort; otherwise, it withers and dies.

Every December, I start a long list, usually around 25 items. Some items always show up: be more focused on my writing, expand my writing horizons, publish a book or two, and approach writing more professionally. Naturally, I throw in few about being more attentive to my loved ones and being more active in my faith. And of course, lose weight and exercise more.

You would think that I would be discouraged that I never keep my resolutions for the whole year. I do accomplish some of the smaller ones and a couple of the larger ones, but overall, I don't have an impressive success rate.

However, for a couple of months -- sometimes all the way through March -- I do keep them. For those months, I write more, eat less, exercise more, telephone my family more, mail letters to distant friends, do chores cheerfully (or as close to that as I can manage), and generally enjoy the productivity. It's not such a bad thing to fail in the effort. It's better to do that than to never try. We don't attempt improvement, we can be sure that we will never achieve it.

So the last resolution that I always add to my list is this: to forgive myself if I don't keep my resolutions and to try again next year. I've always kept that one.

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