Every New Year’s Day, I am catapulted back to my childhood. I remember riding with my family to my grandparent’s house for the evening for dinner. I entered the house and a plethora of smells took up my nose. This was my favorite time of the year. My favorite day of the year. The ringing in of the new year was a joy in itself, but this day held a tradition that was unique to my family only.
My grandfather is a beautiful man. Ralph Tice is a retired Navy veteran of 26 years, having participated in the Vietnam war as well. He has two children, six grandchildren, and 2 great grands (with another one on the way!) Known and loved by my siblings and cousins as “Gramps”, I can honestly say that we all look up to him. He has always been a figure I have the utmost respect for. He supports me, along with my siblings, in everything that we do. He encourages us through our failures, applauds our successes, and simply pushes us to be the best we can be.
Photo Courtesy of Kelli Wells
My Gramps, being the man that he is, created a tradition to be observed by my family on New Year’s Day. He creates a meal, usually something rare and unconventional, and keeps it as a secret from the family. We all sit down to dinner, the meal is revealed, and we bring in the new year trying something new. Now, the meals range from doable to completely extreme. Dishes over the years have been frog legs, bison chili, alligator, even cow tongue! I can’t say that I have found every meal to be delicious, but I definitely have not regretted partaking in a new experience with my family beside me. Plus, the joy that the tradition brings upon Gramps’ face makes it all worthwhile.
Credit: Flo Dahm
Starting each year with this foundation makes me unafraid to try new things in the coming year. It forces me out of my comfort zone and makes me proud to be a part of a family that encourages change and experimenting. The importance travels far beyond food, but into other aspects of my life. Not only do I value the courage this brings me to be adventurous in the new year, but I also value the pure bliss that is evident at the dinner table. Seeing my family laugh and be surprised at the meal revealed, reminiscing about our memories from the past years, and being one with each other are things that I hold very close to my heart.
I do not know if I have ever told Gramps how much this tradition means to me, but I should. It is so special. It is also something I will pass down to my children someday. I cannot wait to see wait is on the menu for this year, along with the new joys 2020 will bring!
Written By Maia Wells