[After a fun month of exploring a poem a day, I’m returning to my own riffs — for now. Enjoy, and happy new year.]

There’s an ancient custom in Scotland called first-footing, in which someone steps outside a home before midnight to symbolically be first to cross the threshold in the new year, bearing the ritual good-luck gifts.

I first-footed my own house last evening (all the other housemates being away), and I don’t meet the ritual criteria for the first-footer (though I’m part Scottish, I look more like a Viking). Being ecumenical as to good-luck charms, though, I settled for some Texan new year soup (I’m not Texan at all, but Lisa Fain’s recipes always taste like home) and, for good measure, the “wee dram” of Scotch associated with the first-footing tradition.

Amidst this muddle of rituals, today is a strong reminder of a different kind of first-footing that has made an enormous difference in my life and which I’d like to continue to re-pay — and pay forward — throughout the year.

Today is the anniversary of one of my best friends, who, a little more than a year ago, took the initiative to invite me for drinks (and had the persistence to make it happen). Leaving the local watering hole, he took an even braver step: he looked me in the eyes and said, “Hey, man — we’re going to be friends.”

He meant it, and we have been. His decision to take the first step, and the deep friendship that has grown between us since, has brought amazing richness to my life this past year. Finding such a friend is one of the best kinds of luck there is.

And so, this new year, a happy anniversary to my friend, and a happy and healthy new year to all. And may we all be brave enough to take the step that brings good luck and friendship to those we meet and cherish.