To a new year

Growing up I was told to always wear polka dots on New Year’s Eve. Polka dots symbolize round things, like coins, which symbolize wealth. We were also told to keep coins in our pocket to invite riches for the new year. We bang on pots and pans as loudly as possible to ward off evil spirits. And lastly, we always eat palutang, a rice dessert that’s boiled in water. If it floats, it means that the following year will be light.

I follow these traditions like clockwork down to the polka dots on my underwear to my socks, and this year, even to my blouse and sweatshirt. I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious–this is one of the few times I actually follow tradition. I don’t put coins in my pockets expecting that we’ll be rich every year. It’s more the belief that my family and I will be ok. I jump up and down, scream as loudly as I care to without waking up the neighborhood, and bang on pots with the energy of a kid on Christmas until my sister and parents tell me to stop because it’s annoying.

These traditions never really meant more than what they were: small actions and symbols I got used to doing. But this year they are a comfort, a reminder that the world keeps turning whether you turn with it or not. Time passes whether you’re moving or not. Whether you’re living or surviving or thriving or not.

I don’t have a theme or a resolution or specific goals (yet) for 2021. I can’t recall if I even decided on a theme for 2020. I realize now, hours before we ring in the new year, that what you bring to each new year is hope, your body, your voice, and the love of those around you. Sometimes, oftentimes, that is more than enough.

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