New Years Eve Tradition…and My Clever Mom

I’m talking today about my family’s New Years Eve traditions.

This is my family growing up, not my children and husband today.

I’m from a family of eight kids. Eight kids in a three bedroom farmhouse that was so old, before my mom and dad moved in, they were using it to store ears of corn. When Mom and Dad got married, there on the land my grandpa owned was this little old house.

Three rooms TOTAL. They did a bunch of fixing and turned it into (drumroll) a four room house.

Now, people didn’t always live in the mini-mansions they all do today, so it wasn’t that uncommon. But it was pretty squashed.

Mom and Dad slept on a fold out couch and the kids, which just kept popping up every year or two, slept in this cracker box upstairs, one room with a roof that slanted. When my SIXTH sibling was born, a brother, Mom and Dad added onto the house by…buying another house, hauling it in and setting it down by the current house. Now the house had THREE bedrooms.

But, I now slept on Mom and Dad’s fold out couch (which I did  not fold out). You can count that as a fourth bedroom, but it really wasn’t one.

All this to say, we were pretty poor and I was raised without much fancy stuff. And I really didn’t notice…much.

In the context of being poor, every New Years Eve, Mom would make this feast for us that was kind of expensive.

She’d get the pan out she used for deep frying, she had a wire basket to sink down into the hot oil, and she’d fry shrimp and chicken, French fries and onion rings.

It was DELICIOUS. My dad especially liked it which is why she probably did it.  But except for the shrimp, which she bought breaded, it was all made from scratch.

She’d peel and ‘french fry’ the potatoes. She’d dip pieces of chicken in a thin batter, and she’d make these onion rings that, every once in a while, I can find in a restaurant that is seriously trying to make delicious food. The onion rings would go in a thin batter, then she’d drop them in the hot oil and they’d kind of be all stuck together.

We’d just surround the poor woman and she couldn’t turn out that wonderful once-a-year food fast enough.

I’m fond of saying, I never knew there was such a thing as a cookie that wasn’t warm.

Same for shrimp and onion rings, deep fried chicken and French fries. We always ate this food as fast as she could cook it.

I found out much later that part of this annual deep-fried feast was Mom and Dad trying to come up with a way to keep us all home (as we got old enough to have driver’s licenses) She worried about wild behavior (for us) and drunk drivers on the road with us.

In fact we didn’t start the tradition until I was a little older, so there’s some truth to it.

I always have loved fried shrimp (honestly, I like every kind of shrimp!), and once in a while I get those really great batter-dipped onion rings like Mom used to make.

And they remind me of a simple time in a three-bedroom farmhouse with a herd of kids all surrounding a very special and clever Mom.


To celebrate the new year.


I am giving away an ebook.

I have new release that has been released before…in a novella collection.

So it may be one you’ve read before.

Dr. Tess and the Cowboy

An archeologist discovers dinosaur bones and wants to preserve an important site.

Her dream come true may destroy his ranch.

Or it may lead them to true love.


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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

30 thoughts on “New Years Eve Tradition…and My Clever Mom”

  1. My mother always did the traditional, Southern New Year’s Day dinner – pork, black-eyed peas, turnips, greens, and cornbread. I still do.

    • It was a wonderful childhood. Running around outdoors, neighbors with seven kids. A one room country school house. Cows and horses, pigs and chickens. Very different from today but pretty normal back then, at least near us.

  2. My mother always fried up sausage, onions and peppers New Year’s Eve. I hated it. Even the smell of it turned my stomach. I don’t do anything special.

  3. I don’t remember anything my mother did for new years when I was young. I know the first nine of ten years was spent in a four room house. There was a small kitchen down stairs and three rooms upstairs. We didn’t have much growing up either.

    Happy New Year

  4. My Daddy was one of 12, and they didn’t have big houses, either! I know at one point the four oldest boys were all in one room, and shared a bed!

      • In Daddy’s family, it was: 4 boys, a girl, 4 boys, a girl, 2 boys. It was like 2 different families. When the four oldest were in WWII, the youngest wasn’t even 5 yet.

  5. I love your memories! When I was growing up we often spent New Year’s Eve with my dad’s brother and family and they served roast beef cooked with carrots, potato’s, & onions. To this day, this is one of my favorite meals! Happy New Year and thank you for all if the joy you give us!

  6. Welcome today Mary. Happy New Year to you and yours. This tradition sounds similar to the reasoning that my parents had. There were five of us kids. I was the oldest. Girl, three boys, girl. They wanted to keep us close to home for the holidays for the same reasons. Mom would concoct all sort of things for the month of December. Some of them became traditions. One of my favorites was the one where we got to work in the kitchen helping make cookies for a whole week. The next week was making breads and the next week was making pies and cakes. My younger sister is the only one who didnt want to be in the kitchen. She is now 53. When she got engaged, she told her man that she did very little cooking and she preferred to eat out. He was ok with that. He is lost in a kitchen. LOL But when she does cook, (because she likes to host for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter now that our parents are in heaven) This woman can really put out a fabulous spread that is super tasty.

  7. Wow, I enjoyed reading your blog today. Such love you had shared with wonderful parents and siblings. I can smell the onion rings right now! What a treasured memory. I go the Dairy Queen when I’m in a fix for onion rings. So good there! Happy New Year!

  8. Mary, gosh, that sounds wonderful and brings back memories of my own. My mom had one of those very same kind of deep fryers that you used on the stove with the wire basket–OMG, I would not ever be brave enough to use one of those things. LOL I used to have one that was an electric one that was about the same type deal, but you plugged it in, and it told you when it was “ready”–took the guesswork out of it. LOL I really enjoyed your post, and I could just imagine all of you kids getting so excited about those wonderful meals that were so special. I love a good onion ring, too, and they are hard to come by. My mom used to have a beer batter recipe she used and they usually turned out really good. Great memories, and I will say, your mom was definitely very clever to think of that way of keeping y’all home! Very special! Hugs, Mary, and hope you have a wonderful 2021!

  9. My parents always played cards with our neighbors. There was lots of yummy appetizers. The kids played board games. It was a fun time for all.

  10. Growing up, my parents took in foster kids besides the 4 of us kids (21 over the years). We had an old farm house. We had fun growing up on the farm. Lots of chores but always stuff to do. We learned never to say “I’m bored”. If we did, Dad found some more chores for us to do. Kids today get bored too easily.

  11. If we were home, my parents didn’t have any special traditions for any holiday. My grandma always made cabbage because it was supposed to mean something with getting wealth or money in the new year. We’d laugh if the Publisher’s Clearing House mail came the next day.

    My husband’s family always had pork and black-eyed peas, so I made that a tradition for us on New Year’s Day.

    Your seafood fry fest sounded wonderful. You many not have had much, but it sure sounds like there was lot of love. Happy New Year!


  12. I am the oldest of six and we had a 3 bedroom house also, yes with the slanted ceiling upstairs. I really didn’t realize my family’s financial situation until I went to college. My friends at home really didn’t discuss family financial situations and most of my friends came from were families like mine. We may not have had much, but we certainly appreciated what we had. We didn’t do much for New Year’s Eve, but New Year’s Day we watched the Rose Bowl Parade and then the football games started. I usually spent more time reading than watching the games. It was a day for snacking. The table was set with crackers and cheese, chips, veggies, little sausages, cookies, drinks, and we sort of grazed all day. I love what your mother fixed. Nothing is better than freshly cut and fried french fries (we did make them) and onion rings.
    Thank you for the look back. I hope you have a wonderful 2021.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing. I really do not have any stories about New Year’s Eve. My parents would spend it with my aunts and uncles. I would be left home with a sitter. I was not able to stay up to see New Years come in. As I became older, we never started any tradition. For over 20 years, my husband worked 11pm-7am, so I always spend New Year’s Eve alone.

  14. Our New Year’s Eve tradition involved a salted peanuts and red hots mix, an old fashion crank telephone and the church youth group. We would stand in a circle holding hands and crank the handle on the telephone. It would create a bit of an electrical shock. It was a competition to see who would break the chain. of course for teenage girls it was more about whose hand you got to hold!
    I can’t believe that I have not read this novella! I do like to wait until they come out in real books so maybe that is why I don’t have this one. Happy New Year, to you and your Cowboy!

  15. I love that, Mary! I don’t recall any special Née Year’s traditions, but we were pretty much stay-at-home kids ?

  16. What wonderful memories! We didn’t have any New Year’s traditions, but the last few years, I have made the year themed glasses for my kids to wear and we eat snacks while waiting for the ball to drop on TV, which is at 11PM for us.

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