img_0062The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word tradition as an inherited , established or social custom of the handing down of beliefs, information and customs from one generation to another. Some families have traditions like going to church on Christmas Eve; or the Father sits at the head of the table and the Mother sits at the other end (closest to the kitchen); naming a child after an ancestor or in the South, naming the child and calling them by both names like Mary Dixie; always saying a specific grace before eating; that Hickety Hoo lives in the basement with Mr. Bloody eyes and only comes out when children are around; always eating Aunt Jewell’s fruit salad on Thanksgiving and so on. In my family the children began a tradition of giving their Dad things that could be displayed on our mantel. He would hear their laughter & snickering when he opened his gifts and never failed to let them down as he ceremoniously put it on our mantel. Our family or should I say, my sons have begun a tradition of their own. The Brotherhood of the Traveling Lima Beans. Yes, you heard right, lima beans.
From the time my husband and I married in 1953, we would spend a week at Folly Beach, South Carolina during the summer time. My parents would rent a cottage and we would be there as well as my sister, Betty, and her family. It began a tradition that would continue throughout our married years. All generations together in one beach cottage. A week of sand and sun and surf and family and love for one another. In the early years, we stayed in beach cottages with splintered floors and beds with broken springs. The kids often slept on the screened in porch and laughed and joked most of the night away while parents slept in miserable beach beds that were generally were sandy and uncomfortable. Somehow, that was not the important part of the time we shared together. After Hurricane Hugo destroyed many houses on our beach, we began to inhabit beautiful homes that were the epitome of comfort, but we never lost that love we had of being there together.
I don’t know exactly what year it began but I do recall when it began and if my memory serves me well, it was around the summer of 1995. We were spending our traditional summer week (where all of our children and grandchildren would gather along with my Momma and sister) at Folly Beach, S.C. and as always our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we over-bought groceries. On the last day of our stay, we would always leave some of the left overs with my sister or dibby up what was left between the families, but no one wanted the lima beans. There sat this lonely little can of lima beans which was intended to go into my soup pot that was never made. As my older son was pulling out of the driveway, my youngest son encouraged one of his twin nephews to run out to his car yelling, “You forgot this.” He threw it in the car and ran back to the house laughing like crazy and so it began. Where oh where are the lima beans?
The lima beans would take a life of their own going from one of my son’s houses to the other. Once they were placed in a plastic zip lock bag and put into the toilet tank. I don’t think it was found until the toilet started running…maybe the beans were too much for the toilet or someone was full of beans. The son who had placed it there at one point opened the top of the tank to see if it had been discovered and found it had been replaced with a can of corn….succotash! How he kept a straight face when he came out of the bathroom is still a mystery to me. The lima beans would be placed behind pictures in one of their living rooms or on the dash-board of the others car. Once it was wrapped up as a Christmas present and given to the new owner. Even it’s label wound up on a gifted bottle of wine. Once it was placed into the shower stall at a beach condo in North Carolina where it sat among the shampoo and the conditioner. One of the boys almost lost it when it was put on the hood of their car. Sometimes it is hidden in remote places and sometimes it is out in the open. For instance, it was put in one brother’s pantry where it resided among the potato chips and the soft drinks. I am not sure how long it was there before being discovered. The lima beans have traveled between Louisiana, Virginia, South Carolina and all the way to Pennsylvania to make their presence known to the other brother. Their kids and spouses have joined in the game and began to help them find new hiding places. One could expect the lima beans to show up almost anywhere and any place. They were left at the door of the summer rental in North Carolina just before departure time, but somehow wound up on the windshield of the other brother’s car, resting on the wipers as they were pulling out of the parking lot.
As that crazy old song says, “They’ve been everywhere boy, they’ve been everywhere…Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and all in-between.” Where will the lima beans travel next? Whose suitcase or gift will they be in? Who knows??????? Only The Brotherhood of The Traveling Lima Beans.

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