"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." -- Anonymous
Happy New Year!
Three simple words that a Pollyanna might translate to mean, "Regardless of all the blunders you made in 2012, all is forgiven and you have a clean slate to start all over!"
Although I rarely hear people nowadays raise the subject, making New Year's resolutions was something I did until I was 10 years old when I stopped the practice for no explicable reason -- a good way of not having to explain why I failed my mission to fulfill the resolutions I made.
New year or "oshogatsu" as the Japanese call it, is that country's most important celebration of the year. My mother became pensive every time oshogatsu rolled around, and she spent hours recounting to me what it was like living in her homeland as a child.
I regret not having recorded any of our conversations and only hope our young people will not let those golden opportunities slip by them.
Mom was a stickler for doing a thorough housecleaning before the dawn of each new year. I guess it had something to do with starting the year right and was a carry-over of what she was taught in her native Japan.
As is customary with most traditional Japanese families, my mother began setting up her special holiday menu days before the new year, which translated to preparing such delicacies as kuromame, consisting of sweet black soy beans; kinpira gobo or burdock roots; nishime combining vegetables, seaweed, chicken and fish cakes simmered in broth; and ozoni, a special soup served on New Year morning. That left her free to socialize with family and friends without having to cook on New Year's Day.
Being second-generation Japanese-Americans, my wife and I celebrate new year in a slightly different fashion than our parents were accustomed to when they settled in this country.
Since I'm usually the first one up in the morning, I routinely turn on the fireplace on cold mornings. (We had one of those gas stove inserts installed years ago, as we no longer burn wood in the fireplace). I the prepare coffee using the Keurig coffee maker our kids gave us two Christmases ago and settle back to read the Times while occasionally glancing at our big screen television promoting year-end sales, and the football bowl games to be aired later in the day.
When our parents were still around, we bundled up the kids and spent the afternoon with them and other members of the family in their modest one-bathroom home to celebrate the holiday in traditional ethnic fashion.
And who can complain that life is tough, living in today's society?
Despite the fact our folks are no longer living, we are still able to enjoy the customary Japanese repast, thanks to couples like Bob and Fran Tsujimoto who, although American-born, still carry on the traditional open house celebration we once feared was fast becoming a disappearing art. It goes without saying that we need more folks like them if the tradition is expected to continue.
I find it interesting that three of America's most important holidays fall within the last month and a half of the calendar year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The first holiday offers unconditional thanks, the second worldwide peace, and the third prosperity and happiness to everyone. All the important things of life.
Have a Happy New Year!
Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at columns@bayareanewsgroup.