The cool traditions of others (first-footing)

I ran into my brother's friend and recalled for the first time in years that Dave and I visited their house early on the morning of New Year's Day once or twice. We were sharing a good luck tradition with them--first footing: coming to the back door, bringing food, being the first to cross the threshold in the new year, being from another tribe (one way or another). We were the first footers who brought the family good luck. And we'd stay awhile and have an informal celebration, eating and talking in the living room. I remember they took out their favorite comedy records, Alan Sherman and especially Tom Lehrer, and we heard the best songs. This was my introduction to Lehrer, I believe.

It was a sweet tradition. It endeared my brother to his friend's parents, sparked a little fresh happiness in all who were there, and put some continuity in the holiday over the years. That's enough good luck right there--the custom works already, even if no other good luck follows.

We didn't have this tradition in our family, our tribe. That's just the thing: other people have some great traditions and it's a blessing to get to know them. Maybe add them to our own.

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By Ken Smith, Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 7:15 AM.