Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chilly (Chili) in Bethlehem

My oldest daughter is a Tax Collector's servant (again). She's been working long, hard hours in Bethlehem for the last two weekends.

And I'm OK with this new job opportunity...

My middle Sprout? Well, she seems to have developed leprosy. And I'm OK with this as well.

Actually, the girls just finished participating in an Interactive Living Nativity called "Journey to
Bethlehem" that took place over the last two weekends.

Observers (that's us, the general public) got to experience a little bit of authentic "Christmas" as we were guided on a walkingtour through the 'town' of Bethlehem - you get to wander among market stalls; pet live camels, donkeys and lambs; smell fish cooking (yes, real fish!) and lentils stewing; watch potters, weavers and bakers, and interact with more than 100 people dressed and acting in character as townsfolk, the Innkeeper, fierce Roman Soldiers, fishermen, shepherds, a tax collector, Rabbis, wisemen, children.

Fascinating, colorful, beautiful sensory-overload!!

At the end of the walk-thru, you come to the stable with Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child - angels sing, and all is right with the world.

This spectacular event takes place outdoors, at night, in the cold (how authentic!), but fortunately everyone's pretty well wrapped up under those robes. Even Baby Jesus had heavy, insulated blankets and tiny mittens.

My youngest daughter (and grandparents, friends and neighbors) LOVED the program, and we waited in the long lines and walked thru several times. Little Sprout enjoyed the many friendly animals, and looking for her big sisters in their costumes, and we enjoyed seeing the familiar faces of many friends and my daughter's classmates among the cast.

If you live in the Seattle area and didn't make it this year, make a note for next year - it is NOT to be missed.
To quote the local paper - "'Journey to Bethlehem' is well-done; a beautiful and powerful portrayal of the Nativity" - (as well as huge production that I am amazed and astounded by -I'm totally in awe of all of you, especially those in charge of planning and pulling the whole thing off!)

As I may have mentioned, my Jessika is one of the Tax Collector's servant-girls and in her 'role' she fusses around his tent while he collects taxes from those entering Bethlehem. Not a big role, but she's absolutely LOVING it. This is her third year participating in the program.
Her sister Olivia joined as a "leper", part of a raggedy group that skulks in the shadows around the walls of the city (unfortunately no pictures of her - leprousy doesn't make a person very photogenic!) .
The cold weather and long hours of basically just standing while people walk by didn't seem to
phase them at all!!
I'm so proud of my girls - and all the participants!! It's not an easy way for anyone, let alone a restless teenager, to spend seven long, icy-cold evenings. I'm proud of their dedication and passion to share The Christmas Story.
Yes, there were plenty of behind-the-scenes antics - shepherds kept texting for cocoa, guards "arrested" random innocent people, chickens nibbled ears, a couple torches burned too high and curious little boys mistakenly chomped on the VERY hot peppers. Yes, those props are all real!
But what a wonderful event to be a part of! The cast and crew are well-cared for, kept warm and fed by a hidden staff of more volunteers who keep soups, coffee, cocoa and cider available for quick snacks behind the scenes.

Knowing that there were other vegetarians/vegans in the production besides my daughters, I offered to bring a big pot of vegetarian chili for part of an evenings warm-up chow.

Did they have chili in Bethlehem? Maybe not 2000 years ago, but it certainly kept a few weary souls warm tonight while the story they shared warmed thousands of onlookers hearts. (yes, attendance this year was in the thousands.)

Whatever your beliefs, hopefully this finds you safe, warm and sharing the Season with friends
and family.

Here's my super-easy chili recipe (one of my daughter's favorites) and some (a lot) of pictures from "Journey to Bethlehem". Enjoy.

Easy Chili

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green, 1 red pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 cup tomato juice
1/4 cup red wine or more tomato juice
1 can corn, drained
1 package Boca crumbles (or other burger)
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups of your favorite salsa
2 Tbsp. chili powder

In a large pot or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat 3-4 minutes. Add peppers and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes more. Add burger crumbles and cook 5 min more.
Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer 20-30 minutes or until flavors combine and chili is thick.


Toni said...

That looks like so much fun! What a great way to share the Christmas story with the community. I wish my church had something like that.

Bianca said...

I'm not Christian, but I went through one of those living nativity things a few years back just for the hell of it. And it was pretty darn neat. They even had a real camel, who interestingly belongs to a man in Memphis who keeps the camel as a pet. The chili looks delicious!

Anonymous said...

You are so sweet for bringing chili to your daughters and vegetarian/vegans in the cast! I am sure it was a hit!


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