Our family has a late fall - early winter tradition. It all revolves around making Hickory Nut Cake. It may not seem like a big deal to bake a cake but let me explain the process. In the fall my father makes a trek to his old homeplace in the hills of West Virginia. It was once a farm where his father raised a large family. It is now mostly wooded and inhabited by deer, turkey and squirrel instead of a bevy of noisy children. Among the trees that grow wild and large on the hillsides are hickory trees. Depending on the weather and if he can beat the squirrels, he can easily gather a good amount of hickory nuts from the forest floor. These are the fruit of the ground that has been in the possession of my ancestors for many generations.
These nuts are then turned over to me and my family. For several weeks our evenings are spent cracking and hulling the hickory nuts. This process has become a rite of fall. It is a simple pleasure to spend quiet hours talking about this and that. It is in these times that hearts are bound together. It is pleasant time that takes both the body and mind away from the TV, work and the multitudes of concerns that vie for the attention of the mind. We are doing what generations have done before. This is but one tie to the past that remains in the present.
Then my wife, following an old family recipe uses the hickory nuts in making the cake. After the house is filled with the wonderful aroma of baking cake it is time for the final step. A special icing, also a family recipe is put on the hickory nut cake and a few hickory nut kernels are sprinkled on top for a final garnish.
Words cannot adequately describe the taste but suffice it to say it is wonderful. Hickory nut cake is usually on the menu for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. This yearly tradition serves to remind me that we are part of a bigger picture than we usually see. We are on this earth for a short time as we enjoy the blessings of life left us by those who have gone before and we in turn, hopefully, pass on blessing to those who come after us. Have you ever wondered about the practical applications of the genealogies that are found in the Old Testament? Examples are found in Genesis 4-5 and 10-11, lists of so and so who begat so and so. This tradition was also a reminder that we are part of a legacy and we shall leave a legacy. As you think about traditions, especially as we enter the Thanksgiving - Christmas season, remember how you choose to live your life today will either be a blessing or burden upon all of those who come after you. Use this time for a little wise self-evaluation.
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Pastor of Adult Ministries
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