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Celebrating Green

It seems that everyone celebrates Green these days, for good reason. We live in a beautiful world that collectively we've begun to recognize for its importance and longevity. A world that was created not only for our enjoyment but also for our sustenance and is indeed under our care. I'm reminded of my very creative and intuitive sister who said while gazing outside the window during one of those interminable car trips, "You know, the world is mostly green." She was three at the time. In the Northwest, our world is mostly green and we are blessed for it.

Today my family will celebrate another kind of green -- St. Patrick's Day. Due to travel, work, and school schedules, this is the only time we can all be together. So, as I am writing, my Irish Soda Bread is cooling on the counter, my corn beef is brined and ready, my carrots are washed and the green cabbage is sliced. The spices brewing in my kitchen invokes precious memories of my grandmother.

It's a beautiful picture ... my kitchen. But interestingly enough, my family isn't overly fond of corn beef and boiled cabbage. The soda bread receives a nod of acceptance while the roasted potatoes and carrots are fine. The white cake festooned with clover, however, is much, much more appreciated. Why this menu? Why not salmon or Irish Stew or any of the other Irish delicacies they love? It is tradition. It is what we do. They request this menu above all others.

St. Patrick's Day is a big celebration in our house as it is with the rest of my family. So many branches of our blood line come from Ireland on both my side and my husband's side. My Hastings are from Northern Ireland while the O'Hara's hailed from County Sligo. The Wilson's also came from the North. All of our Irish ancestors found their way to Pennsylvania in the late 1700's. While some were farmers, some were stone masons who couldn't keep themselves from politics in those early days. A rich heritage I want to pass on to the children in our family.

Do hours in the kitchen for a meal that will not be thoroughly enjoyed for its culinary delight confuse some? Perhaps. But, it's not about the food, this celebration of ours, it's about our tradition, it's about heritage, it's about family.

I don't think enough can be said for tradition. While some would say that tradition is a meaningless exercise in futility, I would wholeheartedly disagree. Tradition is everything. It is a statement of who we are and where we come from. It is also a statement about what we hope to be. In a time when our country is rushing toward the eradication of all things traditional under the name of progress, I don't think we can afford to banish our children to a world with no symbolism, and no tradition. Everyone comes from somewhere, everyone believes something ... if it isn't instilled and celebrated, it will disappear.

While the day turns from snowy, blizzardy conditions, to sleet, rain, thunder, and even sun, we will anticipate another family gathering, another cherished tradition, and perhaps this year ... will actually like the corn beef. There is always hope.

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