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Every year for the past decade, I have plucked the twelve best-looking red grapes from the bunch on New Year’s Eve, set them aside in a small cup or bowl, and waited to eat them one by one at midnight.

Eating twelve grapes at midnight (las doce uvas de la suerte) is a Spanish tradition dating back to at least 1909, a grape is eaten at each stroke of the bell at midnight, signifying the start to a new year. In doing so, the person will have luck and prosperity in the upcoming year. I imagined that this long-standing tradition started when a Spaniard had a bout of terrific luck one year after consuming twelve grapes, but my Spanish fairytale was brought back to reality when I learned the actual origin.

One year some grape growers in the providence of Alicante had a particularly generous grape harvest. The grape farmers needed a way to sell lots of grapes to avoid spoil, and so came their marketing idea of passing grapes off as good luck. However, others suggest that the tradition in Spain may reach back even further into the 1880s.

Tradition and superstition are not found very far from each other. Some superstitions also surround the tradition of eating twelve grapes. If you don’t finish all twelve grapes before the twelve strokes of the midnight bell, your year is doomed. If you don’t ruminate on wishes or resolutions for each grape as you consume it, your year is doomed. Instead of kissing, laughing, and toasting with champagne, your first minute of the new year is a bit chaotic as you are trying to simultaneously stuff twelve grapes in your mouth, consume them within sixty-seconds without choking, and deeply meditate upon your wishes and resolutions for each grape.

After being first introduced to this tradition, I’ve stuck with it for the past ten years. I love spending the day of New Year’s Eve writing down my twelve wishes for the next year. For some reason, this felt different from coming up with just one resolution. Instead of only including something that I had to put effort into to make happen, I loved the magical feeling of also being able to wish something into existence with the burst of a grape at midnight.

This year was different.

I’ve been reflecting upon the fact that my resolutions and wishes were focused on things that I didn’t have or were self-perceived faults that I wanted to improve upon. I decided that I no longer want to begin every year being the opposite of grateful. This year, I made no resolutions. I didn’t sit down to make a list of all the ways I feel inferior, underdeveloped, or lacking and make goals to ‘fix’ myself. I had my growth mindset wait until 12:01.

For Christmas, I bought myself and my brother subscriptions to MasterClass, and I’m obsessed. I most recently finished David Sedaris’ course on humor and storytelling, and I’ve been revisiting these lines over and over again: “Needing to be perfect is a real curse. I mean, you need to do the best that you can do, and then you need to take the best that you can do and you need to rewrite it, and rewrite it, and rewrite it. Feeling the need to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect, it just makes you paralyzed. So let go of that, because you’re not going to be perfect. And if you’re very lucky, you’ll learn to be yourself.”

As teachers, moms, women, friends, humans, there is often the pressure to feel the need to be perfect. Heck, I had to delete Instagram for a few months because I got so caught up in how amazing other teachers’ classrooms looked, how a mom traveled the world seemingly effortlessly with her children, how Huda looked absolutely gorgeous after each makeup application... we are living in a world where it is so easy to compare, and a world where it is so easy to hide your flaws and vulnerability.

So over the past few months, I’ve been thinking more about who I am and rewriting that over and over until it really feels like me. The way I teach, the way I parent, the way I interact with the world. I’m no longer trying to mangle, distort, or parody versions of myself into what I perceived as perfection.

After spending this past semester learning about teaching writing under Lucy Calkins and focusing so much on the revision of my own writing and the teaching of revision, I’ve come to understand that it’s not just about writing. It’s much deeper than that. Her words from her newest book, Teaching Writing, come to mind as I write this post, “Revision occupies an almost holy place in my mind. It is why I write - for the opportunity to turn back on my first efforts and really on my life, my reading, my insights, and to find new significance, new beauty, new meaning.”

So here is to a new year, ripe and bursting with the opportunity to draft our lives, revise and revise again, until we learn to be ourselves.

Today's Pairing: Picture Book

Everyone Loves Cupcake

by: Kelly DiPucchio pictures: Eric Wight

This adorable picture book is about Cupcake, who everyone likes. She tries extra hard to make sure that she is likable and perfect... so much so that her friends begin to dislike her for that very quality. Finally, her friend Cookie gives some her some advice: to be herself. She surprises her friends with a moment of honesty and vulnerability, inspiring her friends to do the same and share their true feelings, and in the end, everyone realizes that no one is perfect.


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