I come from a superstitious lot.
We pick up pennies.
Bad luck and deaths come in threes.
We throw spilled salt over our shoulders.
Just this past Christmas Day, my mother reminded me it was bad luck to keep holiday decorations up through the New Year.
I was also asked if I needed black eyed peas for the annual lucky New Year’s Day meal.
“We need all the luck we can get,” my mother said with a shrug.
Indeed, 2020 has brought devastating wildfires, a global pandemic, the most stressful election in recent memory, and countless other hardships.
It’s also left folks eager to make 2021 a better year.
Especially people like my mother, who works as a nurse in Georgia and has seen the bitter effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic first hand.
She’s mourned the loss of coworkers who have died from COVID-19.
She’s spent hours at her sewing machine on her days off — constructing face masks for her colleagues who lacked the essential personal protective equipment at the onset of the pandemic.
She’s cooked mounds of food and sweets and dropped them off at her local hospital to make sure her fellow nurses have something homemade to eat and not just another round of pizzas or subs.
She’s woke up at the crack of dawn after getting just three hours of sleep and drove two hours out of her way to work a morning shift because there was simply no one else.
She did all this as a woman in her 60s and as part of the most vulnerable population for COVID-19.
My mother has literally put her own life on the line this year for others.
It wasn’t her first rodeo — my mom was on the front lines during the swine flu epidemic and even contracted that virus.
She’s an old pro at quarantine, vaccinations and sanitization.
However, this year — and this virus — has been different.
I could see it in her eyes when she questioned me about my New Year’s Day plans.
It was an unspoken plea.
Was I going to do my part, however small, to try and make things better?
I’ll be honest, I don’t subscribe to the supposed benefits of most of the superstitious rituals my family swears by in an effort to ward off bad luck.
After all, I consumed the necessary amounts of black eyed peas, cornbread and greens on Jan. 1, 2020 — and look what that got us.
However, as my mom rummaged through the pantry in search of a bag of black eyed peas for me, I knew her request was more than just a passing query.
It was about solidarity, understanding, and honoring the journey my mother and others like her have been through this year.
Even if I don’t believe it will change anything, even if I think its a hokey tradition — I’ll do it.
Because it matters to her.
And what she did this year matters.
What we all went through this year matters.
Even if you don’t think the pandemic is serious, even if you think masks don’t work, even if you think the death toll is sensationalized, even if you choose not to take the vaccination — you were affected by this year, somehow.
Maybe not as much as my mom and her healthcare colleagues — if so, you have been very lucky indeed.
However, I think we can all agree we could use a little extra luck in 2021.
So eat some black eyed peas and greens, fry up some pork tenderloin, whip up some cornbread, wear red underwear, eat 12 grapes at midnight and let’s spread some good luck around.
Maybe — knock on wood — 2021 will be better.