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Happy New Year!

January 1, 2007
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    I'm in a surprisingly good mood today because the New Year's Eve that I had turned out not to be very depressing at all, even though I didn't go out. I curled up in bed and watched the Spanish version of the countdown in Time Square, which takes place in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid (been there! ^_^), then at midnight I shoveled down the twelve grapes for good luck, just like Spaniards everywhere. I think I've figured out the purpose of this tradition, finally. Basically, the deal is that you eat one grape for each month of the year, at each stroke of the midnight bells. This starts out well enough, when you only have 2 or 3 grapes in your mouth, but by the fifth stroke you're starting to fall behind because you can't find room in your mouth for the sixth grape, and by the 12th stroke you're in a craze to cram in that last grape on time. Of course, the whole process in complicated by the fact that you've got grape juice all over your face and you've been laughing since stroke 4… but I realized that therein lies the secret: you ring in the New Year with laughter.

    (Oh, and nobody sings "Auld Lang Syne", which is great, because I find that to be one of the most depressing tunes of all time. Henceforth, and I mean it, that song is not to be sung within my presence on New Year's Eve. Much better to have a lively Cha-Cha, even some Ricky Martin! Well…maybe not Ricky Martin. But I think you get my point. At any rate, for all the things that I have found odd or disconcerting in this country, stuffing my face like a grape-eating chipmunk at midnight was not one of them. In fact, I think I'm going to adopt that tradition and bring it home, so y'all had better be ready to eat grapes next year! But I digress…)

    My point is that here, the first act of the New Year is a big, hearty laugh– and if that isn't a welcome to good luck, I don't know what is.

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