Lana Vaughan

The Queen of Questions

Cowboy Chili for the Princess

Things and days have meaning because we give it to them. Traditions are unique to individuals and families and cultures because they have been given meaning consistently and repetitively.  Some are repeated so long that the original meaning is lost or diluted by time. Others are started with the best of intentions only to die before they take root in the hearts of those observing them. Most are accidental. A few are contrived. Those that have sprung up in the past 100 years or so tend to be driven by consumerism and social pressure.

IMG_3201Eleven years ago a tradition began in our home that I do not know of being observed by anyone else. I may be wrong about that but based on the origins for us, I doubt it. October 2002 in a little kindergarten class a patient woman named Mrs. Goldsmith was teaching 20 energetic young students. The theme for the fall months was cowboys and ranches. Stick horses were made and named and ridden with enthusiastic imagination. The naming of these ponies and stallions was almost as critical as the decision of the riders in choosing their own cowboy or cowgirl name. Gingerbread Grace and her faithful horse Rosie galloped around together for weeks.

But then the collision occurred. The draw of many young ladies to don the tiara, the long white gloves and the ball gown for the parties at the end of October is a mighty force. The gown was selected. The sparkles shone bright. But the call of the cowgirl was just as strong. Thus began the tradition of Cowboy Chili on October 31st for the Princess. Made from scratch and simmered on the back burner for hours to thicken, a slab of corn bread and sweet tea became the annual fortification before taking Daddy’s hand and heading out into the night to make her royal rounds.

The little Princess is taller than me now. She’s opted to hand out candy with her friend this year, bumping me from my front door duties. Those tears earlier were from cutting the onions. Eleven years of making chili you would think I would be used to the onions by now.

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