Monday, January 01, 2007
The celebration of the New Year looked like it was going to be a quiet affair. At the last minute our friend Demetrius called and said we were invited to his families celebration.
We had gone the previous year and had a great time but I got the sense that his brother didn’t want non-family there. I could appreciate that but it didn’t keep me from giving Demetrius shit about it. When he called to invite us I even told him not to worry about it but K jumped in, “Hell, no we will be there” she said.
The alternative other than going to bed early was going to what is called an Alco-thon. These are parties, meetings and other social events that are thrown around the clock during some of the festive holidays- especially Christmas and New Years. They are good and important functions for people who are concerned about their ability to not drink or use drugs over the holidays. In most moderately sized cities including my little corner of the Midwest have these sober events scheduled. I’ve gone to these in the past and they are invaluable to someone pulling his life together. But it has been my experience that a good portion of the conversations revolves around how much fun everyone is having without liquor, which is a nice sentiment but it doesn’t stop. Generally someone will comment about how much more fun they are having without being drunk on New Years than the ever had being drunk ( I would argue this first point vehemently). This comment is said so often that it begins to feel as though they are trying to convince themselves that it’s true. At some point the competition begins. Each person in the conversation will try to out do the others in their drinking war stories of the past. If someone was arrested for drunk and disorderly someone else will have been arrested for beating up a cop another for setting fire to a house until someone has to ‘win’ by admitting that they were charged with being drunk and disorderly while setting fire to a cop. I agree that it is better for some people to not drink. But spending the evening comparing old scars seems no more fun then getting new scars.
So instead we celebrated a Greek New Year. For this occasion a cake is prepared called a Vasilopita. It is a delicious cake with a wonderful taste of orange. It is cut in a very specific manner, each slice is cut with a particular individual in mind. The first slice is cut for Jesus, the second for the Virgin Mary, the third for the house, the fourth for the man of the house, the fifth for the woman of the house, the children, the grandmother etc. At this point I begin looking at the cake slowly disappearing and I do some quick mental math to be certain there will be enough cake for yours truly. A coin is baked in the cake, whoever gets this coin will have good luck for the year. Demetrius’ wife got the coin two years ago and her mother died the next month, which shows you how effective the coin is.
Demetrius’ mother got the coin this year and we all cried foul because she placed the coin, baked the cake, directed the slicing of the cake and we are all ungrateful non-Greeks. It was a wonderful affair and a blessed way to bring in a new year.