Happy 2012

We bucked tradition this year. I usually cook up a pot of Hoppin’ John and braise some cabbage on January 1. This year I made red beans and rice and braised some kale. I know, I know – when will the madness stop?

My crew of two always compliments the Hoppin’ John and eats the luck-filled meal with good cheer. The red beans and rice? They were too busy shoveling it into their mouths to say much of anything until their bowls were empty, at which point they each, in their turn, got up from the table, headed into the kitchen, and loaded those bowls back up with seconds. I was left to mention, casually of course, that I thought the beans were rather good. They nodded their heads and mumbled something in agreement through their bean-filled mouths.

That dinner felt lucky, not just for the bounty symbolized by the many beans, but by their tenderness, the rich flavor from the smoked ham hock, the restorative nutrition of the whole combination. And, most of all, of course, by the fine company in which we ate.

We spent a slice of the winter break back in Minneapolis. While there I do crazy things like read the newspaper in its paper form. This causes me to read parts of the newspaper I don’t seek out online, like advice columns. One such column published a letter from a woman bereft at her holiday circumstances: because she doesn’t get along with her extended family and doesn’t really have any friends, she and her husband and daughter end up spending holidays “alone” and it is very depressing. That little ditty put a whole world to be grateful for into perspective for me, but mainly I was glad that the idea of spending a holiday with “just” my husband and son always strikes me as a delightful prospect.

Our new year was rung in not just with tasty red beans, but by several rounds of my favorite Christmas present: the Pride & Prejudice board game from Ashgrove Press:

Yep. It exists and it is awesome. It was given and received as a bit of a gag gift. Or, rather, the gift was as much the knowledge of the incredible fact that such a thing exists as it was the thing itself. But we punched out the paper shillings, separated the “Regency Life” cards from the “Novel” cards, chose our characters, and gave it a go. Rousing good fun ensued. My son insisted we play again. Yes. The eight-year-old boy wanted to play again. We’ve now played several times – enough so the cards have started to repeat, which takes away a bit, but by no means all, of the fun.

May 2012 be filled with peace and joy, of course, and also bounty and tenderness and rich flavors and health. What I wish for you and me both, though, is that it is also filled with delight. Expected delights – like dinner with friends and family – are nice but, just to keep things interesting, I also hope for plenty of unexpected delights like crazy board games based on classic novels.