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Lesson Transcript

New Year’s Day
"Black-eyed peas?" I asked.
"Gotta have 'em," my husband said, rubbing his stomach in anticipation.
"They're the best when they've been cooked down with some bacon or ham and get all mushy…mmmm."
"Never heard of it," I said.
"What?" He was shocked.
"You're kidding, right?" No, I wasn't kidding. I had never heard of the New Year's Day tradition of eating black-eyed peas for luck. In fact, I had never eaten black-eyed peas in my life. Not even once.
"Maybe it's a Southern thing," I said.
Since moving to the Southern United States from Southern California ten years ago, I have learned many new things, the main thing being that American culture can be vastly different from region to region. The American South is no exception.
Take tobacco, for instance. It is not just something that comes rolled in a cigarette and gets you kicked out of California bars. Tobacco is a way of life. Ask just about any Southerner over the age of thirty, and he'll tell you a story about farming tobacco. It has to be planted and picked by hand, and then the leaves must be dried in barns before going to auction. Modern tobacco barns are made of metal and run by electricity, but drive down any North Carolina country road, and you will see a wooden tobacco barn leaning to one side, its metal roof waiting to rust away. Many Southerners have vivid memories of climbing into the rafters of those old barns to hang tobacco sticks laden with leaves over propane heaters to dry.
In ten years, I have become enamored with the culture of the South.
I have walked into many old tobacco barns and seen the ghosts of family. And every New Year's morning, I eat black-eyed peas.
What do you do for good luck?