It all started on a Friday morning after I had taught a chicken class the night before. When I teach the chicken class, I take a store-bought chicken and demonstrate how to get it oven-ready for roasting. So at the end of the class, I always end up with an oven-ready bird.
On this particular Friday morning, I told the staff that I was going to roast the chicken leftover from the night before, and then we could all eat it for lunch.
While we were all standing around the roasting pan, enjoying the chicken, licking our fingers and groaning with delight, Molly said, "Man, I wish I knew how to make this." It struck me as completely ironic and unacceptable that someone on my staff did not knew how to roast a chicken. So I told Molly I would bring a chicken to work on the following Friday and show her how to roast it. And then, of course, we could eat it for lunch again.
The next Friday, chicken in hand, I demonstrated to the staff how to prepare a chicken for roasting, then we roasted it, and we stood around and ate the chicken for lunch. We agreed that the next step would be for Molly to prepare and roast a chicken all by herself the following Friday. (Molly's hilarious response? "Next Friday I become a woman!")
And that is how Chicken Fridays began at Hurley House. They are now a regular thing, and everyone on staff is taking turns preparing and roasting the bird. We all stop whatever we are doing and enjoy lunch together.
It's hard to adequately put into words how this new tradition has affected me. On the one hand, I feel so fulfilled getting to share with the girls on my staff how to roast a chicken they can be proud of. It feels good to equip them with a tool they will use the rest of their life.
On the other hand, I feel like they are all giving me a gift. Community is something we all long for, we were all built to crave, and sometimes we don't even know we are missing it until we drink it in. Chicken Fridays are a glass of cool water for my heart.
To stand around a cast iron skillet and eat chicken and potatoes with our hands, to laugh together and share stories with one another, to know that one day when we all go our separate ways we will have this shared experience to remember fondly, it is the sweetest gift.
Maybe this is the heart behind traditions. We don't set out to find them. They find us.
Or maybe it's a reminder to look for ways to connect with those around us because everyone wants to belong and share a meal together.
Or maybe it's a glimpse at what happens when we take a risk and share something of ourselves with other.
I think it's all of the above. And at Hurley House, the tradition of Chicken Fridays is a keeper.