happy-new-year-1097521_640Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day seems to be one of those holidays that people overlook. Sure, it’s a day off work for many of us, but other than that, it’s pretty much bowl games and hangover cures.

Not for me.

There is no other holiday better suited for wishing a happy one to not just family and friends, but to everyone we meet.

The best part about a new year is that it applies to everyone. It’s not a religious holiday. It’s not even a national holiday. This is the only holiday that every single person in the world marks. It’s the best time of year to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. And couldn’t we all benefit from more things that bring us together rather than divide us?

Pepperoni and onions in sauce. Photo via B. Smith.

For my family, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are marked with tradition. We attend a vigil mass for the Solemnity of Mary on New Year’s Eve, followed by pepperoni sandwiches (thick cut pepperoni and sliced onions slowly simmered in tomato sauce until the onions are tender and the onions and meat have flavored the sauce) for dinner. When my kids were young, the pepperoni was a bit spicy for them, so we added hotdogs to the tradition. At midnight, after a toast with Asti Spumante (and several phone calls to family) we eat bagna cauda (tuna and anchovies simmered in olive oil and butter… with copious amounts of garlic) with bread and veggies. After a late night, we get up and tear down all the Christmas decorations. (Yes, I know it’s still the Christmas season in the church, but that’s what we do.) Then we watch football until the traditional dinner of pork roast in sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, green beans, and applesauce. Again we toast in the new year, and then we wind down with Christmas cookies, tiramisu, and coffee. Any cookies left will become a cookie torte the next day.

Tradition is so important to us.


Not tradition, but not a bad way to spend a holiday, either.

And this year we barely managed half of what we usually do. We were just coming back from a week at the beach (also not part of our usual tradition, but it was my in-laws’ 50th anniversary, so we took the party south), and the drive took a lot out of us. Bagna cauda and undecorating didn’t happen until the 2nd. Tiramisu and torte didn’t happen at all. And I fell asleep during football, so I guess that was a wash, too.

But that’s okay.

The most important part of tradition isn’t what the activity is, but who you do the activity with.

We weren’t with extended family this year. Haven’t been for several years, actually, as we just live too far away now and school and work resume right after the holiday. But we were with each other. And while our activities shifted or just didn’t happen at all, we were together. And that’s what matters most.

So if you know me, you know family time is important to me. And if you know my writing, you know family and tradition are important to my characters. Out and About just released in December, with more family drama for the Kellers. Book three of the series is already in process. Mind Control will be coming out a few months from now, with more Italian tradition from the Notaros and the Brotherhood. I’m so excited about both of these series, and I hope you are, too. I’m pretty sure the Kellers enjoyed a cocktail party with a few close friends and the Notaros and the Brotherhood definitely had pepperoni sandwiches and bagna cauda. Now they are all ready to see what 2016 will bring.

I’m ready, too. I’m looking forward to all the possibilities 2016 offers. So, I’m happy to wish you all—heck, I’m wishing the entire world—a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous new year.

Do you have any expectations for 2016? Let’s talk about it below.

15 Responses

  1. I love your traditions whether you did them all or not. And who didn’t fall asleep watching football on New Year’s Day? Boring. We spent it with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece in Atlanta. We ate too much but we enjoyed just being together. Can’t wait to read the new book – just downloaded it yesterday.

  2. We spent time with friends on New Year’s Eve and did the traditional phone calls at the stroke of midnight. I celebrated Mass with my parents, before coming home to eat.

    We missed you at Christmas, but know that you only get a 50th anniversary celebration once. So happy for your in-laws. We too had the traditional pepperoni sandwiches for New Year’s Eve, and pork and sauerkraut, with mashed potatoes, salad and apple sauce on New Year’s day. We topped off the evening with left over Christmas cookies.

  3. I also love reading about your traditions. Like Mae, we’ve gotten away from so many now that the older generations are passing. I didn’t even stay awake until midnight. On New Years Day, John and I went to see the movie concussion. Thought about you because it involved the Steelers. And there were scenes in Pittsburgh – looks like a nice city.

    This year I want to spend more time writing, but so far I’m not off to a good start. 🙁

    • It’s sort of sad when we lose our traditions, isn’t it? But it makes room for new ones, so let’s cling to that happy thought.

      Corey and I both want to see that movie—him because of the topic and me to see the city. I’m always homesick. You’d love it, though. It’s a wonderful place.

      I think we all want to write more this year. Perhaps we can all lean on each other, hold each other accountable. I’m here if you need me!

  4. I love all of your family traditions. We had so many when I was younger, but the generations that inspired them are all gone now. My husband and I have made some of our own (like a late lobster tail dinner on New Years Eve followed by a champagne toast at midnight). And, of course, my siblings and I still maintain some of those Italian traditions we grew up with, but the family has dwindled so.

    I’m currently reading Type and Cross and enjoying it. I love the complex family dynamics between the characters, and am looking forward to following this series as well as continuing with the brotherhood series.

    On the writing front, I hope to factor more time for that in 2016…both writing and blogging. I have book contracts looming, so I definitely have to focus this year.

    Wishing you the best for 2016! And congrats on the Steelers 🙂

    • HI, Mae. I think every generation loses a little of the old traditions. We’ve tried really hard to keep them, but we’ve lost some, too. For example, Epiphany Bread was one of my favorite holiday foods growing up. I have the recipe, but I never make it for my family. Too busy, too lazy… who knows? But you’ve handled the situation well. I think starting new traditions are just as important as honoring the old ones.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying Type and Cross. I’ve really come to love that series, and I hope all my readers love these characters as much as I do. And I, like you, have to write more this year. Contracts, contracts…

      Thanks for the congrats on the Steelers. I’d tell you I’m sorry about the Ravens, but I’m not. 😉 I suppose you’ll be rooting for the Pats. Sigh. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things go. Know I’ll be waving my Terrible Towels this Saturday. (I have English and Italian versions, so yes, multiple towels.)

      Happy 2016!

      • My great aunt used to make incredible Italian cookies along with “filled horns.” A few of my in-laws still do filled horns today but they don’t even come close in comparison. The other two recipes have been lost, although I remember my sister trying to make them when I was a kid, and they just didn’t cut it, LOL. I can relate to your Epiphany Bread.

        Yes, I’ll be cheering on the Patriots 🙂 I’ll think of you with those bilingual Terrible Towels, LOL.

        Not sure how far back you’ve followed the Steelers. Do you remember a quarterback named Scott Campbell?

        • We really need to swap recipes sometime. My sister and I still bake a lot of our grandmother’s recipes, and we come darn close in quality. My cousin? Not so much. 😉 (I guess it’s a good thing she doesn’t read this, huh?)

          I’ll think of you when I’m waving my towels, and I’ll hope some part of you is rooting for the Black and Gold. I’ve followed them since birth. I have vague recollections of Campbell. Early eighties, maybe? I feel like he was there right after Bradshaw retired. My memories are foggy, though. Are you a fan of his?

          • You have the early 80s part right. I’m really impressed at your knowledge of the Steelers. And I am so terrible at recipes, but I’m always up to try!

          • If you think I know a lot about the Steelers, you should talk to my husband. He makes me look like a stranger to the team.

            As for the recipes, we’ll have to talk. I bet I have a few things you could easily make. Definitely the pepperoni sandwiches, if you’re into sloppy sandwiches.

          • Ugh. I typed a reply and it didn’t take.

            Mae, I would love to swap recipes. Like Staci, I still bake many of our family’s traditional foods. We got the recipes from our grandmother, she is the best baker we know (still kicking at 97).

            Happy 2016. Go Steelers!!!!!! 🙂

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