Hoppin’ John is just the way to start the new year. It is a southern American tradition – possibly introduced to America by African slaves. Hoppin’ John is a thick soup of black-eyed ‘peas’ (really beans). The story from so long ago (and each family has it own version of the story) is that for every ‘pea’ eaten, a dollar will be gained. So, families eat a lot of Hoppin’ John in hope of great prosperity in the new year.
This year, like many years past, an old Washingtonian family gathered at dinner on new year’s day to reminisce on the events of 2009; everyone’s good fortune to be healthy; and, the overall buzz of excitement for the new year and new possibilities.
Mrs.”T”, the elder at the table, is a debutante from a well established Washington, D.C. family. Her family includes military leaders; a Chaplain in the U.S. Congress; and, a couple of missionaries in China in the early 1900s. She chose her own way to dedicate her life. As a young mother, she traveled to Selma, Alabama to demonstrate in the Civil Rights movement. Later, she found the passion to peacefully demonstrate against the nuclear arms race. Her life’s story is one of civil disobedience and passion for justice and peace for all.
As everyone around the dinner table is enjoying a big bowl of Hoppin’ John and pondering their next steps in 2010, Mrs. “T” quietly offers wise counsel. To those searching and prepared for their next step in life, Mrs. “T” said, “Don’t think about it so much. Just let it happen. Let it surprise you.”
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.