Happy Hogmanay!

That's Happy New Year's Eve, to you non-Scots. I'm spending my afternoon "redding" the house -- the Scottish tradition of cleaning your house on the last day of the year to make sure everything's in good stead for the new one. Hogmanay's a gigantic deal in Scotland, so my heart's with my Glaswegian relatives today. In some ways, it's a bigger deal than Christmas. Many Scots spend the evening at a Ceilidh (pronounced CAY-lee), a traditional Gaelic dance, usually marked by men in skirts, loads o' champers (champagne) and tossing each other around the dance floor to Celtic music. Good times!

At midnight, the bells toll (church bells sound, clocks chime, etc.) across the cities -- it's our version of gun-shooting -- and people open up the window a crack to let the old year out and the new one in. We sing Auld Lang Syne. Then, they set about first-footing, the Scottish tradition in which a tall, dark and handsome man would be the first to set foot across your doorstep after midnight. He'd bring with him good luck for the new year, in the form of some shortbread or cake (to ensure the family won't go hungry), a little coal (to ensure the house would be warm for the year to come) and something to drink, often a bottle of Scotch.

In my family, my Grandpa Smillie was our usual first-footer and while the tradition seems to be fading in modern Scotland, in the face of big parties and street events, it remains one of my fondest memories of my Glasgow childhood.

As for my modern-style New Year's Eve, Chris and I have a tradition of our own: building a fire, putting on comfy clothes and staying in. Sometimes friends with nowhere to go stop by and join us, sometimes it's just us. But it's rank amateur night out there and we prefer to spend the last night of the year safe and warm, enjoying simple pleasures and feeling grateful for all we have.

I have to say I'm ready for a new year. Health-wise this hasn't been the greatest year for me and I'll take a new slate. I also spent a lot of this year sort of meandering, unsure what direction I should be taking, where my focus should lie, what I want to be when I grow up. I'm not sure how many answers I have yet, but I think I'm finally on the right track. Sort of. Maybe. Sigh.

Wherever you are and whatever you do this evening, I wish you a great new year, filled with all kinds of good stuff. Especially laughter. And friendship. Happiness. Some growth. Good mojo and juju. A bit of chocolate. Good coffee. A pile of great books. Crappy, indulgent TV. All kinds of good stuff, really.