Memories of smooch planting

By Corene Brisendine

Family traditions are wonderful things, since they accompany such fond memories.

My family had a tradition of eating black-eyed peas, boiled cabbage and corned beef on New Year’s Eve.

While I enjoyed the peas and corned beef, I must admit I hated eating the cabbage.

I remember my grandmother telling me to eat it or I would suffer bad luck all year long. I would wrinkle my nose at the smell of sweaty socks steaming on my plate. Then I would scoop up a heap on my fork and shove it in my mouth as quickly as possible.

I would chew just enough to get it to go down, then wash the taste out of my mouth with a big swig of eggnog.

At that point, my grandmother would be satisfied and not pester me to finish the rest on my plate.

After filling our bellies with the hearty fare, we would gather around the TV and wait for the ball to drop in Times Square.

I don’t think I’ve made the luck-filled feast since I left my parents’ home. I guess I really don’t want to cook or eat the cabbage.

I wouldn’t be opposed to eating a nice reuben sandwich with a side of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve, and perhaps I’ll make sure to have one next year.

HOWEVER, that is not the fond memory to which I was referring.

You see, every year right after we watched the ball drop on TV, my grandfather would scoop my grandmother up into his arms and spin her around. Then he would bend her backwards and plant a big wet smooch on her.

I would laugh and ask my grandfather to spin me around next, which he would do and give me a big wet kiss on my cheek.

One time, I asked my grandfather why every year on New Year’s Eve, he would kiss my grandmother with such flair and fanfare.

He replied that he wanted to be the first man she kissed every year.

My little heart melted.

I must admit it I thought it was quite romantic what my grandfather did every year, and I wished to grow up and find such a man for myself.

However, I am sad to report that I have not found such a man…yet.


EACH YEAR, I find myself in good company — with either friends or family. But I have yet to receive the kind of romantic attentions my grandfather bestowed upon my grandmother year after year.

Something always happens to prevent such a kiss.

When I was with someone, I was off in another room or my beloved could not make it to the gathering.

When I am alone, I just remember there is always next year – and party with my friends.

This year was no different. I had a great time celebrating the end of the year with good friends.

We didn’t have black-eyed peas, corned beef and cabbage, but it was great to be surrounded by my friends. We played games, drank Champagne after midnight and cheerfully wished one another a happy new year.

Although it seems like all is lost, I am undaunted in my quest to find a man who wants to be the first to kiss me each and every year.

AS THE years roll by, there are times when I wonder if the type of relationship my grandparents shared for more than 60 years no longer exists in our culture.

It would be a shame if that were true, but I don’t think that really is the case.

I think we just get too busy, or get wrapped up in all the fun and excitement of the moment and forget the little things.

We all needs a little romance in our lives.

And so, I suggest that next New Year’s Eve, those who have a special someone take a moment to start the year with a little romance.

Take your partner up in your arms, spin your beloved around and plant a good one on him or her.

Who wouldn’t want to be the first person to kiss the one he or she loves every new year?

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