As a youngster, we always had collard greens and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. We lived next door to my maternal grandmother, Mary Nichols, in Spartanburg. "Mama Nick" said we had to eat collards and peas on New Year's Day - not New Year's Eve or Jan. 2 - for them to have "power." They had the power of making sure we had work and prosperity during the New Year.
She had a wood cook stove and cooked the collards in one pot with a slab of fatback, and the black-eyed peas in another pot with a slab of fatback. I've always heard that fatback is bad for you, but Mama Nick lived to be 99 years old, 95 of them in good health, and ate fatback most every day. Some of our relatives would join us as we ate our annual feast and dreamed of better days.
I don't know if there is a connection to eating collards and peas on New Year's Day and the level of prosperity I acquire during the coming year, but I've tried to find a helping of them every New Year's Day that I can remember. I'm afraid not to.
As 2009 ends, we are leaving a big transition year behind. President Obama inherited a lot of problems, many caused by policies that favor the wealthiest of us. This administration has a different philosophy, and it is taking some time to enact new policies. As soon as health care reform is passed, I feel certain that Obama and Congress will tackle the jobs problem. I believe we will see more job openings and more hiring by spring. People in South Carolina have suffered high unemployment too long.
The wealthiest always seem to do well. I believe we have an administration that is concerned more about the welfare of the working-class men and women of this country. But change takes time.
In the meantime, I've got to eat my collards and peas, and I call on everyone in South Carolina to eat their traditional New Year's Day fare on Friday, say a prayer for the unemployed and wish our administration well in its quest to solve some deep-seated problems. 2010 just may be a fantastic year.