Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our Ozarks New Year's tradition

I went over to the Courthouse this morning to pay my personal property taxes. My real estate taxes come out of an escrow account that I pay into all year with my house payment, and the bank sends that in for me, so I don't even notice it. We drive old cars, so our personal property tax doesn't amount to much. Consequently, I was in a jovial mood at the courthouse this morning, even though I was paying taxes.

Our county collector, a fine public servant as evidenced by his willingness to open the office this morning, a Saturday, so people like me could pay taxes on the last day of the year, was leaning against the door jamb of his office, drinking a cup of coffee and visiting with folks. When he saw me being waited on at the counter by a staff member, he howdied me and then said, "Ozarks Boy, do you have anything exciting planned for New Year's Eve?"

"Well, sir," I said. "I will be carrying on a New Year's Eve tradition that goes way, way back in my family. We did this when I was a lad living at home with my parents. Then when I left home and went out on my own for the first time, I got away from the tradition, but later as a new father, I got back into the tradition and have kept it every since. Family traditions are a fine thing to carry on, and I'm proud to a part of it."

The collector, his interest piqued, said, "What in the world are you going to do?"

I rared back and declared, "I am going to sit down after supper and either watch television or listen to the radio and wait for a broadcast from Times Square in New York City. I'm going to look forward to that big lighted ball drop at midnight (11 p.m. Central Standard Time) to mark the beginning of a new year in the continental United States."

The collector said, "That is the tradition of a lot of families. It is good to be a part of the common culture and heritage of this great land."

"But hold on there," I said. "There is more. As I listen to the radio, waiting on that broadcast from New York City, my eyes will begin to droop and I will begin to doze. At about 9 p.m. I will wake myself up and tell my wife, 'I am a-goin' to bed. You're going to have to see the New Year in without me. Then, she'll say, 'I was just waiting for you to say that.' Then I'll turn off the TV or radio, put the dogs out and wait for them to get done, and then we'll go to bed. I'll be sound asleep at least an hour before that ball drops. Just like my Daddy, his Daddy and Mama before him, my Mama and her Daddy and Mama before her. It is a family tradition to be sound asleep in bed an hour before New Year's in the Eastern Time Zone."

Folks, for a few years as a young adult I would stay awake until midnight (Central Standard Time) having what is commonly called "a good time" with friends.

But I'll confess that I have found it far more satisfying to carry on my family tradition of snoring in the New Year.

Whatever you do, be safe.

Happy New Year.

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