Saturday, December 29, 2012

Welcome, New Year!

(photo creative commons, by h.koppdelaney)

I was thinking about how to celebrate the new year, remembering my friend's tradition of eating black-eyed peas on January 1. A little research led me to this page of superstitions and traditions compiled by the folks at and this post by local chef, restaurateur, and author of cookbooks, Sanaa Abourezk.

Who knew there were so many things to watch out for, so many things to do?! This led to my little rhyme below. Do you follow these traditions or ones not mentioned in these posts? However you celebrate, I hope your new year is a good one!

Ways to Welcome a New Year

On the stroke of midnight,
that gasp between
2012 and 2013,
throw open the doors and shout!
Let one year in and the other out.

When twelve o’clock strikes,
And a new year starts
Enflame the ardor of our hearts
With kisses for those most dear
To ensure a loving year.

Before the old year dashes,
On December thirty-first,
To prevent financial curse
We fill our pantries, pay our bills,
Carry lentils, mend our ills.

On the first day of the year,
For luck the whole year through,
Wear clothing that is new.
Eat certain foods. This is a key--
Fill your plate with black-eyed peas.

As we flip the calendar page
From one year to the next
We hope for good effects
By trying out some superstitions
And carefully keeping our traditions.

Happy New Year!
(c2012, Jane Heitman Healy, all rights reserved)

Enjoy this version of "Auld Lang Syne"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Stories for a Cause

Tom Roberts was far from home one Christmas season, stranded by a snowstorm. Howling winds and snow closed the roads, so he sat in his car in a truck stop parking lot and waited.

He had just finished giving an acting workshop, and the familiar words from "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Moore ran through his mind. He took out paper and pen and set to work writing his own Christmas story, 'Twas the Night before Christ.

That story poem became the first of Tom's three Christmas picture books. The year after 'Twas the Night before Christ, Tom released Santa's Prayer, a response to people who had commented on his first book.

The next year, The Little Lost Sock was published. This book was inspired by lost and found boxes in the churches and schools where Tom and his wife, Tammy, gave programs. The lost sock served as metaphor for the children whose cause Tom and Tammy have taken up, Children's Home Society of South Dakota.

Tom's books were published because of his family's desire to do a mission project. He and Tammy mentioned his poem 'Twas the Night before Christ in conversation over coffee at church, and the project was born. A professional printer, an illustrator with graphic design experience, and others donated time, talent, and funds to publish the book. Proceeds would benefit Children's Home Society, an organization where Tom had played Santa Claus and desired to help the children--and others like them--who had sat in his lap.

The other two books followed the same pattern, brought into being by generous donors.

Tammy is an integral part of the book-making team, acting as Tom's editor and advisor, as well as overseeing the many aspects of production. They travel and give presentations together, giving their audiences a Christmas gift of story and song, and making their books available for sale to help the Children's Home kids.

Tom's background as actor, storyteller, and script and commercial writer prepared him for his present job as Event Coordinator for Children's Home Society. Tammy's background in marketing is a perfect fit for helping promote the books and conduct fundraising for Children's Home Society.

What began as a poem penned in a snowstorm has become a blizzard of blessings all around!