The tradition I carry on is cooking and eating Pork and Sauerkraut every January 1st. I can go an entire year without eating this dinner, but I make sure I have a package of pork and either a jar, or pouch, of sauerkraut on hand by December 31st. Only one person in my family makes intentional calls to me in order to document that I, indeed, kept this tradition; that would be my sister. Year, after year, I assure her I ate sauerkraut and pork on this new day of the new year. She has her reasons, I have mine.

My reason for keeping this tradition is that “if I failed to eat pork, and sauerkraut” on January 1st, anything that happens to the family that year would be completely my fault, according to my sister. So to keep from being harass throughout the year about my disregard of keeping our family “safe and happy,” I eat pork and sauerkraut on January 1st, every year. Believe me when I say that my sister would blame me for the 2020-2021 pandemic and the death toll on my negligence to “tradition.”

I, usually, take it a step further by cooking the pork and sauerkraut on December 31st so I can begin eating it, little by little, as soon as the news announces Australia had completed their New Year’s countdown in Sydney. My reasoning being, when my sister calls inquiring if I followed through with this tradition, I’m covered if she was watching Sydney’s celebration, and forgot we still had HOURS before our location got to 12:00am, January 1st. I’m pitiful for caving into this tradition each year.

I actually like Sauerkraut. What’s not to like? Cabbage fermented in salt (LOTS OF SALT) and vinegar. Personally, I like cabbage in any form it comes in, cooked or raw. Cole slaw, pickle slaw, fried cabbage, cabbage soup, cooked cabbage in the crockpot, oven-baked, sauerkraut, you name it, YUM! But I found out early in my life, just having “sauerkraut” on January 1st, doesn’t give you the full bubble of protection, according to my sister.

At one time, up through childhood and my twenties, I was a vegetarian. I believe that was where my sister’s obsession about calling me every January 1st to double began, just to check up on me. I would dutifully hunt down any package of “pork” so I could at least eat one small piece of “pork.” Finding a package of pork was not an easy task in the community I lived in at the time. Every December was like the Easter-egg-scavanger-hunt of the Christmas season. I lived in a town with a large Jewish community, which grocery stores honored the restriction of “pork” cannot come in contact with “ANYTHING.” So to keep peace within my life, I traveled “far and wide” to hunt down “pork, any pork.”

I’m now in my elder years, and I still have no clue what kind of “pork” to buy. Some years the “pork” is juicy and tender, other years shoe leather would have tasted infinitely more satisfying. But my philosophy around this tradition is “one chew on December 31st and another chew on January 1st” of pork satisfies the requirement for my sister’s call. Which leaves the entire bit of sauerkraut for the rest of each day. I do like to add mash potatoes as the side dish, but am willing to add all sorts of things to my meals, as long as I get my two pieces of “pork” into me for the new year.

If you want to know if having “pork and sauerkraut” actually wards off evil and devastation in a person’s or a family’’s life, I will admit I haven’t seen any scientific statistics on that. I will tell you that in my personal life has had many unforeseen and sorrowful events happened, and I know I followed “The Tradition” faithfully. The only thing I know it prevents is hearing my sister reminding me, and blaming me, for everything that happens throughout the year, either in our family life, or the world events, because I failed to follow through with the tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on January 1st.. I figure the peace that comes from eating “pork and sauerkraut” is worth the two mouthfuls of “TRADITION.”

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