Among the many traditional holiday foods I enjoyed growing up, my dad's posole was always one of my favorites. I recall many cold winter evenings, savoring every bite of the steaming, heaping bowls full of rich, red, fiery goodness. I loved it so much, in fact, that for days following this delicious meal, as long as there was any remaining, I would faithfully dash out to my car in the high school parking lot at the start of my lunch break, just to drive home and indulge in yet another bowl of perfection. (Who in their right minds would prefer Taco Bell or McDonald's, the favorites of my contemporaries?!)
As much as I enjoyed this delectable stew, however, I never actually made it myself or even knew how to make it--that was always my dad's specialty. Not once did it ever occur to me, during my self absorbed adolescence, to try and learn the secrets of my dad's culinary magic.
Years passed, and I married and moved out and created a home of my own. Subsequent winters would find me begging my dad to make his wonderful posole, because no holiday season would be complete without it. He indulged me, of course, and I was satisfied.
Letting him carry on the tradition was fine while my new family consisted of just Darren and me. But once we began welcoming children into our lives, I felt a longing like never before to begin establishing familiar traditions within our own home. So last winter, I decided the time had finally come to try my own hand at preparing my favorite childhood feast. While my first few attempts didn't quite measure up to my dad's version, the standard by which I judged my own results, it wasn't long before I had it perfected. Happy were the days I spent in my kitchen, recreating the scrumptious stew I remembered from my youth.
It was actually while preparing yet another enormous pot of posole that I went into labor with Meghan last December. She wasn't due for another month, so I didn't immediately recognize the contractions for what they were. Instead, I carried on, eagerly anticipating the Christmas party we were to be hosting that night. Throughout the day, I visited with two of my aunts, who had stopped by with gifts for Dylan and Caitlyn, all the while enjoying the scent of the posole I had simmering on the stove. It was late that afternoon, when my mom arrived as the first guest to our holiday celebration, that I finally confronted the reality that I was, without a doubt, in labor at only 35 weeks of pregnancy. While my mom stayed and went ahead with the party for us, Darren and I headed to the hospital and, within two hours of our arrival and following an unsuccessful attempt to stop my labor, we welcomed our tiny, beautiful daughter into this world. She came two days before our seventh wedding anniversary, and just in time for Christmas. (And I even got to enjoy some leftover posole when I came home from the hospital with her the following day!)
I can't believe that nearly a year has passed since that fateful night. When I think of Meghan's birth, I'll always remember the big pot of posole I had cooking at the time, warming the kitchen and filling my home with its wonderful aroma. Yesterday, as I again prepared a large quantity of my much loved stew, I thought about that day and smiled to remember the joy and wonder of it all.
So here it is, this seasons first serving of posole. It won't be the last!