Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pray in the new year!

2:42 p.m. Today's project was to get a bag of dry 15-bean soup mix from Vons, along with many other festive fixings, and get those beans into a soaking bowl overnight. I am in the process of making French Market Soup, a delicious recipe from my beloved friend and spiritual mom Honey Simons, now retired in Oregon.
This soup is part of our mandatory meal for New Year's day, reminiscient of the traditional feasts of other ancient and modern cultures. My late mother always insisted that all southern black New Years' Day rules, regulations, superstitions and old wives' tales be meticulously observed. No wonder I can relate to the feasts of the children of Israel in Leviticus 23!
We used to have ham--symbolizing fatness and prosperity; black-eyed peas standing for coins; collard greens or spinach, a predictor of folding money; and cornbread, because you just have cornbread with a southern meal of this kind. (My dad could not think of a symbol for the cornbread when I called him just a minute ago). The kids were less than enthusiastic, eating one tiny leaf of the greens, and ONE black-eyed pea apiece to keep the peace! They could not believe that we ate those things at home during my childhood. The ham, of course, was always a hit, as were the cornbread and sweet potato pie.
At a loss to have a qualifying, yet kid-friendly meal, I turned to this delicious bean soup recipe. All I'd need to add would be fresh spinach salad and the cornbread, because the soup has pork, every kind of bean, and chicken thighs. It was a hit, and I still serve it every year.
Traditional meals serve up a sense of family and place that we are proud to pass down to our children. I'm not counting on the black-eyed peas for a start to my coin collection, any more than eating greens will line my wallet. The meal I'll serve tomorrow will be replicated all over the South in varying formats, providing humor and fun with the food. "A merry heart does good like medicine," Proverbs 17:22 says, and I'm always ready to make merry!
This year I'll add my own home-canned tomatoes and fresh cilantro. Since 2009 has been an amazing year of the Lord's provision and actively visible handiwork, not only in our garden, but in our finances, acknowledging His goodness with special remembrance today and tomorrow is fitting. Our family is even growing: we ended this year with a new daughter-in-law and two new great-nieces!
I Chronicles 16:34 says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! And His mercy endures forever."
Steve, our children, our extended family and I say AMEN!

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