Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday|[1/1/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 2, 2006

Cindy Lewis will ring in the new year today with a traditional meal of black-eyed peas, ham, cabbage and cornbread. But for dessert, she’ll have a big slice of cake to celebrate her 39th birthday.

She’s a New Year’s baby, and to her, the yearly celebration of saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new is always a little more fun, even though she always turns a year older.

&#8220I remember growing up and waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve,” she said. &#8220Then after everyone yelled ‘Happy New Year,’ they’d sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.”

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Lewis was born at 2:23 a.m. Jan. 1, 1967, in McBride, British Columbia, Canada. She was the second of four children for Larry Duain Palmer and Sandra Leigh Warnock Palmer, but the only one to receive such an extra-special welcome into the world.

&#8220They were having a first baby of the new year contest, and there were three couples in the running. It was so competitive that one of the husbands gave his wife castor oil to speed up the labor process on New Year’s Eve,” Lewis said.

&#8220She went into labor that night, but my mama went into labor not long after. My daddy used to tell us, ‘When your mama had you kids, she didn’t waste any time.’ Sure enough, I was born two hours later. The woman who drank the caster oil didn’t have her baby until Jan. 2,” she said.

In addition to Lewis’ special day of birth, her parents won a gift basket full of baby clothes, shoes, gift certificates and a steak dinner.

When she was 2 years old, Lewis’ parents moved to Vicksburg, and she’s been here since. She and her husband, Dennis Lewis, have three sons – Taylor, 14; Trent, 12; and Dennis, 8.

Having a New Year’s birthday has had its benefits, she said.

&#8220You hear of newspapers or television doing year in review stories. I have my own year in review. It’s easy for me to look back at what’s happened in my life in the past year,” she said.

And there’s always a party. A few she especially remembers.

&#8220When I turned sweet 16, I begged my mom for a birthday party – something special where we had both boys and girls. And she threw me one that was great,” she said.

&#8220When it was New Year’s Eve 1999, we went out. That was a lot of fun because it was about to be the new millennium, and it was my birthday,” she said.

Plus your birthday is always a holiday.

&#8220I’m always off work on my birthday anyway because I work in the schools,” said Lewis, a third-grade assistant at Sherman Avenue Elementary. &#8220But I never get to celebrate it at work with the other teachers.”

People take notice when they find out when her birthday is, she said.

&#8220They’ll comment on it, saying it’s unusual. I think I secretly tell myself, ‘They don’t know it, but they’re celebrating my birthday every year,’” she said.

Lewis said she doesn’t know many others who share her birthday, which might make it even a little more special.

&#8220Some people say New Year’s is just another year, but it’s always a little more exciting for me,” she said.