Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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December 31, 2013

Sign me up for peas and cabbage

JACKSONVILLE — A few years ago, I became angry. Yes, I've been angry since then (for one reason or another). However, this particular time, we were approaching New Year's Day.

I remember thinking 'Why do I keep preparing and eating black-eyed peas and cabbage every year?' 'They never work.'

So, I decided that I was not going to go out of my way to have the traditional southern dish on Jan. 1 anymore. I was done. All it was doing was getting my hopes up.

Black-eyed peas have no magical powers other than giving some folks indigestion. And cabbage … well it smells up the house, and I never seem to have the monetary green stuff it represents, no matter how much cabbage I eat.

Two or three years have passed now, and I've decided to go back the way of tradition. Or rather, crawl back and beg the gods of tradition to have mercy on me!

The past few years have been some of my most difficult. Let's see if I can recap without boring you.

In a nutshell, my mother passed away; my brother moved away; my dad was sick for a while; salary freezes and furloughs forced me to quit my job; my new job bottomed-out; I entered a new career field, and it was twice as hard as my previous one; I became unemployed for the first time in my life; I learned the value of emergency food stamps; I had to leave a new job in Dallas after losing my roommate; I've slept in my truck, on the floor and on many couches and air mattresses; my truck has broken down numerous times; I had to fight the state for my right to unemployment benefits; I've encountered two or three snakes (for the first time in my life); I've passed out due to heat stroke; I've lost a few friends do to circumstances; and a best friend passed away about five months ago.

Don't get me wrong, I've had some nice things happen to me, as well.

For instance, while I was going through all of these things, some good friends stepped in to pull me from the trenches of despair. Yes, a few let go when they realized how far in the trench I was buried (I can laugh about this now). But a few really were there for me, providing encouragement, food, shelter and sometimes money (or an odd job so I could make money).

I've learned there are still some very giving people in this world. For that, I am eternally grateful.

I also learned some much-needed lessons from some of my failures.

First and foremost, don't quit your "day job."

I am extremely thankful to have been hired as the new Daily Progress editor. I have reunited with several Jacksonville area friends, and I am hoping to make many more during my time here.

With that said, I know everyone has hardships … but I've decided that IF there is a slight chance I can make things better in 2014, I'm going to do it. So, Wednesday I will fill my plate full of black-eyed peas and cabbage and pray there really are some kind of magical powers in these plentiful

veggies.

The tradition of having black-eyed peas and cabbage apparently began during the Civil War era, according to a few different online sources. Union soldiers who raided southern homes often left behind these "undesirable" foods. Folks were then left with them as their only form of nourishment.

I just know that they go well with a little salt pork and some cornbread … hot-water cornbread, especially.

Happy New Year, everyone! Be safe in your celebrations tonight and tomorrow! Please, don't drink and drive. Let's have a successful 2014!

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