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Which brings us to what may be the most powerful symbol of all: Like the circular wedding ring, roundness speaks of eternity, of the cycle of life, and how what goes around comes around.

I always prepare dishes with ingredients in most of these categories at New Year’s.

Fortunately — since, by the time New Year’s Day rolls around, everybody is partied out and completely the crabmeat puffs and similar rich fancy party food, eaten standing up — most of these traditional good luck foods are simple: uncomplicated, unfussy, as easy to serve as to eat.

And as good to eat as they are reputed to be lucky.

And most New Yearses, no matter when they fall, are loaded with expectations of, if not dramatic self-improvement (that seems to be primarily an American custom, vigorous self-reinventors that we are), then with the idea of using the day to predict or seek luck and good fortune. Of going after it, often in some way propitiating fate, the gods or one’s ancestors.Many find the texture of kale objectionable — its curliness, if it is not cut finely enough, can cause it to get caught in the throat — but this is not a problem with the flat-leaved, milder collard greens, especially given the method of slicing in this recipe: very thin slices, almost threadlike.One bite of these sprightly green ribbons and their couldn’t-be-simpler dressing, and you’ll be a convert.Another plus: Unlike a salad of more tender greens, such as mesclun, this dish is happy to wait, just as good an hour or two after being made as it is immediately. Make sure your slicing knife is good and sharp, though; the only trick, as mentioned, is slicing the greens very, very thinly. Just pack the ribboned greens into zip-top plastic bags and refrigerate until a couple of hours before serving. A small but important part of the Rouse family Christmas tradition had been rediscovered. “We are going to keep up the tradition, to start it again.Cindy Acosta was out of town when her sister texted her. Going through a stack of recipes as she packed to move into her new home, Jeaneen found her recipe for Mom’s Cocoons. It’s been a long time since Mom did them.” As the only girls in a family of six kids, Jeaneen and Cindy made Cocoons with their mother, Joyce Rouse, and Jeaneen’s godmother, Celina Rodrigue, whom they called Nanny. Cindy says they made double batches of the cookies — for the Rodrigues as well as the Rouses. “You know how boys eat.” When the girls were allowed to help shape the cookies, they often would have to redo them if they were deemed too big or too small.

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