Ringing in the New Year

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Southwest Georgians share their reflections on the holiday that bids farewll to the old year while welcoming 2010.

Cathy Higgins


ALBANY -- Christmas has come and gone, and soon the same will be said of 2009. As New Year's Day approaches, a few Albany residents have shared their ideas on traditions to ring in the new year, as well as the annual ritual of making resolutions.

Spending time with family

Yeah, I'm going on a diet at the first of the year. No, really I don't make New Year's resolutions. Within the first week I had already broken my resolution so, I choose to set goals.

One goal I have set is to run a half-marathon at the National Breast Cancer Marathon in Jacksonville Fla., scheduled for February. The rest is pretty basic: keep God in the center of my life, spend more time with my husband and kids and continue earning my degree.

Our New Year's Eve is very calm, we go to a friend's house eat, drink and be merry, watch the ball drop and go home.

Our New Year's Day tradition is to eat lunch with my mom. On the menu: ham, greens seasoned with ham hocks, black-eyed peas, cornbread and macaroni and cheese. My mom believes that whatever you do on New Year's day you will do all year, so the laundry, dishes, yard work, and any other type of work must be done the day before or the day after. So, I spend New Year's Day with my family, which is what I plan to do all of 2010.

Rachelle Beasley, Welcome Center manager at Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau

Focusing on improvements

I generally make some sort of resolutions each year. I look at the new year as a time to reflect on where I have been and where I need to make adjustments in my life.

In 2009, my resolutions included improving my focus in several areas of my life including my family, Bible study, work and civic activities. With the responsibility of serving as chairman of the Albany Area Chamber, this year I felt it was important to be focused so that I could meet all of my obligations at home, church, work and with the chamber. In 2009 I also resolved to lose some weight and am proud to report that I have lost over 20 pounds. My plan for 2010 will be to lose some more to get closer to the weight that my doctor recommends. Another resolution will be to make exercise a priority.

As far as traditions, when our children were home we did most year have black-eyed peas and greens, although the children did not necessarily enjoy them. Now with them not at home, we don't eat anything special but will maybe grill out. There of course are a few football games to watch.

John McDuffie, partner at Mauldin & Jenkins

Try to be more appreciative

Our traditional meal is corn beef and cabbage, with the black eyed peas.

My New Year's resolution is to try to be more thankful. It's a wonderful life.

Deborah Loehr, Albany Area Arts Council executive director

Healthier living

I do make New Year's resolutions every year. They are almost always resolutions for self-improvement, either healthwise or personal. I am careful though, because I am the type person that once I absolutely decide to do something, I pursue it with 110 percent effort.

About 10 years ago, for example, following a doctor's appointment which was OK, but things like cholesterol and blood pressure were getting closer to borderline, my doctor made the suggestion that I lose weight and try to get a little more exercise. Given some poor family history and the recent death of my father I made the New Year's resolution to lose weight and get more exercise. And I achieved it. Over the next 2 1/2 years, I lost 55 pounds and have maintained my weight ever since.

Claire Fox Hillard, Albany Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor

Making daily adjustments

I don't usually make resolutions. I simply live day to day making the best decisions I can at the time, and always focusing on a full glass of milk (half-empty; half-full just doesn't cut it! LOL).

When making resolutions, I see individuals focusing on what's not working well or what is not quite right with their lives, and therefore endeavoring to forge a new direction. To me, a more positive way of looking at oneself is called for, so... I adjust as I go.

As far as traditions, when I was growing up, our family would toast with a glass of eggnog at midnight and eat a pickled herring (a German tradition). Not being a fan of pickled herring, I ate it with as many Ritz crackers as I could get in my mouth.

At this point in my life, I'm lucky if I keep my eyes open until midnight, and if I do, pickled herring is the last thing I crave (chocolate or peanut butter filled pretzels are probably the first things).

Catherine Glover, Albany Chamber of Commerce president/CEO

Eating traditional New Year's fare

I quit making resolutions decades ago.

I try to make greens and black-eyed peas and have ham or pork chops or pork loin. That is about the only tradition that I have.

Keith Walker, Albany Chorale artistic director

Setting yearly goals

I rarely make New Year's Resolutions, although I do set annual goals for myself both professionally and personally.

As for traditions, I was given some crystal toasting glasses almost 15 years ago by my manager in Tennessee as a going-away present when I relocated to Florida. I was very fond of her. She helped me tremendously in my career, even encouraged me to take on the challenge of a different career path.

Moving to Florida was a turning point in my life, which eventually led to meeting and marrying my husband.

Since we usually stay home on New Year's Eve, I always bring out these special glasses and have a champagne toast with my husband at midnight. I think of her, as well. I say a little prayer that God will bless her and her family in the coming year.

It is a small thing, but this little tradition helps me stay connected with my past and reminds me of the friends I made while living in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Cindy Davis, Flint River Gallery owner