For as long as I can remember, from growing up in Santa Maria to leaving home to attend UC Santa Barbara to the present, there has been one particular holiday that my family has held close: New Year’s Day.
As a child, we celebrated birthdays, holidays and other special events together, but now, as the family has grown up and we adults have our own families, getting us together often shifts around schedules and availability. New Year’s Day, however, is the one day we are committed to being together. Although we have changed the time from early morning gatherings to afternoon ones to accommodate those of us traveling from out of town, the day itself can’t be missed. Wherever we celebrate New Year’s Eve, we always make sure to gather at our parents’ house for New Year’s Day — it’s that important.
As I reflect on the past year and the one that is quickly approaching, there is one part of this tradition that is surfacing for me in a significant way. It’s the time on New Year’s Day when my father imparts insights, reflections and wishes for the upcoming year to the rest of the family.
He speaks in Korean, the language he prefers to use when he wants to convey precise words and phrases to express his thoughts. What he says at the start has changed over the years, sometimes sharing past traditions, family history, challenges and successes. For the benefit of our family members who need translation into English, he summarizes it into the most essential part — his three wishes for our family: health, happiness and education. No matter what the circumstances or challenges of the previous or coming years, we can count on these words from my dad.
For all the years I’ve celebrated New Year’s Day with my parents, the wishes have remained consistent, while the stories surrounding them have varied. As I think about my parents, who are, as we all are, growing older, I linger a bit longer on my father’s words. The three short words are tightly packed with meaning, as he shares what he values, what he wants for us and what he believes is the key to living a meaningful life. I deeply appreciate his heartfelt, straightforward message, and find it both insightful and comforting.
Each of us has our own traditions, whether they center on special holidays, family gatherings, or moments with friends. As we enter into the new year, may you and those you love experience moments that are uplifting, comforting and enduring, bringing peace and joy to you throughout the year.
From our family to yours, we wish you health, happiness and education. Happy New Year!
— Susan Salcido is the Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools. The opinions expressed are her own.