I have a peculiar New Year’s Eve tradition that has earned me a very odd reputation in my neighborhood…My mother taught her daughters: On the first day of the month, if the very first word out of your mouth is “rabbit,” then you will have good luck all month long.
(I’ve done some unofficial research among Facebook friends; people either look blank at the “rabbit” tradition or nod wisely. You either know it or you don’t. Some people have strange versions, like you have to say “WHITE rabbit,” which of course is ridiculous, as everyone knows.)
On the first of the month, Mom would wake up her three girls by shouting “It’s August first—say rabbit!” and then we’d scream “Rabbit!” from our beds with crap-of-dawn enthusiasm. Yay!
I’m not a morning person by nature, and over the years I’ve missed MANY a good-luck month because generally, the first thing I say when (for example) March turns into April is “God-damned alarm clock, shut UP.” It’s very hard to follow that up with an innocent and happy “Rabbit!” and believe that you’ve fooled fate.
Now, nighttime? Yeah—I’m smart at night. At some point in my teens, I decided that since March turned into April at MIDNIGHT (not at the moment I returned to consciousness the next morning), I could ensure my good luck by chanting “Rabbit” in the middle of the night.
Success! I’m the most fortunate person on the planet, so clearly my plan was working.
Eventually I married the highly-charismatic Jonathan and between us we popped out the always-busy Rusty and as my family grew, it got harder to secure the midnight hour to make sure I was saying “Rabbit” at the right time. (More often I was saying “Absolutely not; go back to bed, I’m not kidding.” Almost always to the son, but occasionally to the husband. Like you do.)
So I worked out a new short-cut. We were never big drinkers and not mad partiers, so our New Year’s Eve celebrations were almost always spent happily ensconced at home, marveling that THAT many people would want to stand in Times Square in the deepest wintertime freeze in order to watch an illuminated ball slowly descend a tower. Yay?
Wrapped cozily in blankets on our bed, I would watch the ball fall, kiss my husband silently, and then quietly chant “Rabbit” twelve times—one for each month of the coming year. There—all taken care of!
The kid got bigger over the years, as kids are wont to do, and my general calm was stretched by the realization that Bad Things might happen to him (or to Jonathan). I decided that it would not go amiss if I chanted a few “Rabbits” for each of them. (Jonathan refused to say his own “Rabbits.” Instead he just laughed at me, but who can blame him? I’ll admit that it is a VERY odd tradition, made weirder by my New Year’s Eve compulsion.)
So I had to do a dozen “Rabbits” for me. Then I’d point at Jonathan so he (and fate) would know I was ensuring HIS luck for the coming year and say twelve more “Rabbits” for him. Swivel and point at the kid, allowed to stay up until midnight for the occasion (as opposed to every other night when he’d stay up against express and stern parental demands, which generally fell on indifferent ears) and say a dozen “Rabbits” for him. By this time, both Jonathan and young Rusty were giggling with delight at my foolishness.
It was Rusty who found the glorious Grain family who live down the block. Nancy Grain is one of Those People; she knows everyone and loves everyone she meets. You could stop a stranger on the sidewalk anywhere within a fifty-mile radius of my house and ask “Do you know Nancy?” and they’d say “Oh God, I LOVE her!” Nancy is awesome, her husband Ed is the most acerbic wit in the world, and they have four adorable children—one of whom was in Rusty’s first grade. Nancy absorbed us into her vast extended family and we were so happy to be there. (Still are!)
Nancy and Ed have a neighborhood New Year’s Eve party. Everyone comes. Everyone. WE needed to come, too. The kids all get to stay up late and play in their kid-magnet basement. Come. You’ll have a wonderful time.
Bathed in the golden radiance of Nancy’s hospitable soul, we finally broke free of our stay-at-home rut and off we went, to meet neighbors and bask in the milk of human kindness.
But as the clock ticked closer and closer to midnight, I realized that I had a little problem. Um…what was I going to do about the “Rabbit” issue?
Was I going to bow to temporary social pressure? NOT ensure the luck of all those I loved by chanting “Rabbit” over and over again? Or would I hold to my values? (As if insanely repeating the word “Rabbit” could be considered a value. Yes, I always stand when the “Star Spangled Banner” is played, and I say “Rabbit” uselessly and foolishly first thing in the New Year. That’s a value, right?)
We got closer and closer to midnight. Jonathan was in the kitchen in joyous conversation with people he really enjoyed talking to. Rusty was downstairs in the basement shouting with joy along with all the neighborhood kids. I was in the corner of the living room, and the people around me were all agreeably tipsy. When midnight struck, no one would pay attention to ME. I could risk a few repetitions without being branded a total weirdo. Right?
The countdown came. Ten…nine…eight… the voices got louder and louder with excitement. (Is this any more rational or intelligent than saying “Rabbit?” Really—what sense does it make??) No one was listening. The final countdown—three…two…one! Cheers and screams and the inebriated kissing of cute neighbors because of course you can kiss people at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Eyebrows up, I closed my eyes and started whispering. “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit…” This requires me to count to twelve on one hand while pointing at the “Rabbit” recipient with the other. So—me, first. (When the air bags deploy on the plane, put YOUR mask on before helping others; a good life philosophy.)
A little pool of silence formed around me. I peeked from one eye and saw that a woman was looking at me, her brow drawn in confusion. I slammed my eye shut and kept going; you don’t want to lose count in the middle of a “Rabbit” request, and you certainly can’t stop to explain until the last “Rabbit” is said; these have to be the FIRST things you say.
My dozen done, I turned so I could point to Jonathan in the kitchen. “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit…” The little pocket of silence had expanded, and in that vacuum, I nervously raised my volume. “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit…” A quick peek proved that all the people nearest to me were now watching.
Jonathan done, I turned to point to where I assumed Rusty was in the basement. I took a breath and spoke out loud, determined to see this through. “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit…” Then one more dozen for the dog, asleep at home over THERE.
The drunken revelry had died away with alarming quickness. Silence and confusion spread across the room and into the kitchen where I could hear Jonathan erupt into howls of laughter. Time to ensure the safety of my parents, both still alive at the time. Twelve “Rabbits” while pointing to where I assumed they were. And then for my older sister and her family, so I turned to the east and thrust out a long arm to point at her house, some ten miles away. “Rabbit,” I said loudly. “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.”
Next, my younger sister and her family, who live about ninety miles to the northwest. By this time, the only sound in the room was me shouting at full volume and Jonathan suffering a fit of hysterics in the kitchen. “Rabbit!” I yelled. “Rabbit! Rabbit!” (The “Rabbit” call is like a shotgun; the farther it has to go, the broader its range, so you can get an entire family with one dozen if they’re far enough away.) (My compulsion; my rules.)
Finally, as is my custom, I held my pointing hand over my head like the Pope dispensing a blessing, just in case I’d forgotten anyone. “Rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit-rabbit!”
The entire neighborhood, slightly buzzed, watched me as I closed my eyes and whirled around in the corner, chanting the word “Rabbit” a total of ninety-six times at increasing volume.
I finished and opened my eyes. Every single one of them regarded me with astonishment, except for Jonathan who was having a hard time inhaling for laughing so hard.
What can you do? I shrugged and said, “Happy New Year.” Then I dragged Jonathan out of the kitchen, retrieved our son, and went home.
That was thirteen years ago. I don’t go out on New Year’s Eve anymore, and there are still people in the neighborhood who look at me funny. BUT THEY’RE ALL ENJOYING TREMENDOUS GOOD LUCK, so who’s laughing now?!
And they’ll have that next year, too (as will you) because I’ll be chanting “Rabbit” at midnight tonight, you can be sure. You’re welcome…and Happy New Year!
Full of Hot Heiress https://www.amazon.com/Full-Hot-Heiress-Romantic-Surprise-ebook/dp/B0BBSZK3LR/
Vanished Into Thin Heiress https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BBTCFKZQ?notRedirectToSDP=1&