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A New Year's tradition: the potato drop

SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

I'd like to close the show by talking about traditions, feelings, friendships and potatoes. Yes, potatoes. People celebrate New Year's Eve by dropping all sorts of things at midnight. In Pennsylvania alone, instead of a big, shiny ball, towns drop pickles, strawberries, bologna and giant Hershey's Kisses, among other things. My friends and I always celebrate by throwing a potato out the back door - not just any potato, a potato on which we have written out all of the things we want to leave behind from the previous year - anxieties, frustrations, things that made us sad or mad. Around 10:00 or so on New Year's Eve, we plop a potato and a Sharpie on a table and start writing them all down. And then around 10 minutes or so before midnight, we open up the door and toss the potato out into the night. Goodbye, potato. Goodbye, bad feelings.

This tradition began about seven years ago and actually started with my cousin Katie, who does this with a lemon. The first year I tried it myself, the house was citrus free, so we settled for a potato. And this new tradition just so happened to establish itself at our New Year's parties, just ahead of a stretch that offered a lot of content for New Year's Eve potatoes. The word pandemic will fill about a quarter of a potato's circumference we discovered, as we wrote it a couple years in a row.

As the potato ritual grew, we all decided to add a second potato, a sweet potato to note all the positives from the year, things to hold on to, sure, but still a potato to toss into the night because, why not? Over the years, this has become such an important marker of our lives that when two friends got married a few years ago, we all snuck off for a mini potato ceremony. The writing of our highs and lows has become a moment of fellowship and community, a moment to celebrate each other's successes and be there for each other in recognizing those moments that did not feel so successful because it's important to do both.

I'll be off next week, so I wanted to share this tradition with you before New Year's. Give it a try. That is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED for this Saturday. And whether or not you toss a potato out the window or door next week, thanks so much for joining me on weekend evenings this year as I settled into this job. I've enjoyed your company, and I look forward to continuing to talk to you on Saturdays and Sundays next year. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Detrow is a White House correspondent for NPR and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.