“Happy New Year”

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Happy New Year…

It is a phrase that is said all over our country and other parts of the world at midnight on January 1st. New Year’s Eve is a big night in our culture. Most people are out celebrating or spending time with loved ones. However, if you head to South Philly, you’ll find that many homes are quiet and dark. Philadelphians know that the real celebration happens on New Year’s Day.

The Mummers parade.

The celebration begins bright and early as the first comic club struts down the street, continues through the fancies and string bands, moves into the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the brigades, and finishes on 2nd street. I’ve been asked by many friends from out of town to describe New Years Day in Philadelphia. I struggle to answer every time. How does one sum up 114 years of tradition, family, and city pride?

I can tell you this, when someone in Philadelphia wishes you a Happy New Year, it’s more than a greeting or pleasantry.

Happy New Year is a sincere wish for health and happiness in the coming year between friends. It is said with a hug and kiss instead of a handshake. It is said with excitement and anticipation.

For older generations it is a nod of remembrance to years past. It holds the honor and pride of telling stories of earlier New Year’s celebrations and the duty of keeping the traditions alive.

For younger generations it is a statement of hope, of promise for the future, and the responsibility to propel the New Year celebrations into the future.

For out-of-towners it is an invitation to join in our tradition, to experience our culture, and maybe even march down 2nd street.

For the mummers competing, “Happy New Year” is an expression of friendly competition and the knowledge that no matter what happens all clubs will celebrate their hard work when it is over.

I am not mummer by definition. I do not hold membership with a club nor do I wear a suit on New Year’s Day, but the spirit of this great tradition runs deep in me. My family has marched in the parade since the 1960s. The Mummers are my family. I have attended the parade for most of my life and I can tell you there is no better way to usher in the new year.

So the next time someone from the great city of Philadelphia wishes you a Happy New Year, know that is said with sincerity and years of tradition. A true wish for health and happiness in the coming year.

Letting Go

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We recently celebrated a big day in our household. Our baby girl turned one. I constantly wonder where time has gone. This feisty, silly, loving little girl has changed my life in ways I never imagined. This is why I celebrated two milestones that day.

I also celebrated the anniversary of becoming a mother.

I read somewhere that women are essentially “reborn” when they become a mother. The spiritual and
emotional transformation that takes place when a woman gives birth is indescribable. So, along with my
baby’s special day, I quietly celebrated my anniversary of motherhood.
In honor of this anniversary I have chosen to work on letting go.

I will be letting go of guilt. The working mom guilt that weighs heavy on my heart each morning as I kiss
my baby girl goodbye. I will let go of the guilt of knowing that I will never again be able to devote 100%
of myself to my career (and the guilt of feeling okay with that).

I will be letting go of comparisons. I will stop comparing my journey with those of other mothers. I will
let go of the anxiety and depression that consumed me during pregnancy and I will stop feeling remorse
about choosing to formula feed my baby.

I will be letting go of inadequacy. I will forget about the housework that I cannot seem to conquer. I will
be letting go of those moments when I feel unattractive in this new “mommy body”.

I will let go of panic. The panic I feel when I realize how quickly time is passing. I will let go of the
desperation of wanting to cling to every precious moment because it is simply not possible.

I’m letting go, because I’m busy holding on.

I’m holding on to every kiss, every hug, and every cuddle. I’m savoring smiles, giggles, and baby talk. I’m
relishing in every “mama” that is uttered from her sweet lips.

I will try to replace the guilt on work days with the knowledge that my daughter is well cared for by my
mother. I will focus on the hugs and kisses at the end of the day.

I will try to replace comparisons with support. I will use my pregnancy experience to help other mothers
who may be struggling too. I will remember that my daughter is healthy and happy and all of my
decisions have been out of love.

I will try to replace inadequacy with joy. Instead of focusing on unfinished chores I will focus on what
has been accomplished (Even if it is only reading books and singing “OldMacDonald”). I will try to
celebrate my “mommy shape” and remember that my body housed a PERSON for nine months. That is
more amazing than any weight loss!

Lastly, I am going to enjoy these moments instead of focusing on how quickly they pass. I am going to
love my little girl with every fiber of my being; remembering that motherhood is a privilege and it is an honor to watch her grow.

Will this be possible?Maybe not, but I will make an effort. I encourage all mothers to do the same. Let
go of negativity and hold onto the fact that you are the whole world in the eyes of your little ones; even
when you don’t see it.