First footing

People in Scotland observe a New Year tradition called “first-foot.” Have you ever heard of it? The first person who enters your home after midnight on New Year’s Day brings an omen of good fortune or bad luck for the household over the next year. Of course, people make sure that they invite a good friend to come over rather than just leave something that important to chance. The friend is warmly welcomed in, bringing the family gifts of coins, chocolate, or whiskey (!) to symbolize the coming good year. I don’t believe in luck, but it sounds like a nice tradition just the same.

It got me thinking about who I would choose to be the “first-foot” through my front door. Someone with my best interests at heart, loyal, honest, and of good moral character is who I would seek out. I was blessed and humbled when it occurred to me how many dear people came readily to mind. I’d encourage you to set the newspaper down right now and take a few moments to perform the same exercise. Let’s resolve to spend more time with these people in 2014.

I also considered what gifts I should bring with me if I were asked to perform the honor of first-footing. I don’t have much in the way of cash to spare, everyone seems on a diet this time of year so chocolate is out, and it certainly wouldn’t be a bottle of whiskey! But maybe I have better gifts that I could offer: deep listening, a posture of acceptance, encouragement, understanding, patience, and grace. Take a moment and imagine all of the places your feet will take you in 2014: home, work, school, neighborhood, church, stores, clubs, celebrations, parties, vacation, etc. What do you think the people in those places need most desperately from you this year? Your life will take on new meaning and purpose as you bless others with your authenticity and unique gifts.

This is the first-foot Family Services column of 2014. A prayer from my well-worn copy of Celtic Daily Prayer seems appropriate for crossing that threshold and closing today’s column:

This day is a new day

That has never been here before

This year is a new year

The year of the open door

Ian Eastman, M.A. promotes the well-being of our community at Family Services of Warren County. Make a resolution to improve yourself by enrolling in its new Stress Management or Anger Management classes. Call 723-1330 for more information.