AND SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS
Four guest writers share their thoughts on the silly season
The Ham takes up all the chilly bin while water bottles go warm in the car cup-holders. Irritation grows. Ham sandwich at roadside stop, anyone? No takers.
The turkey gives you hot meat, cold meat and soup treats over a couple of days and then politely disappears. The Ham is the guest that far overstays its welcome.
There’s a saying that fish and visiting family start to smell after four days. Add ham to that list.
It literally does, and having to wash the clammy, smelly cotton bag it lives in, and re-treat it with vinegar, adds despair to defeat. Who could fancy ham after changing the dressings? Meanwhile, The Ham hogs the entire fourth shelf in the fridge.
We respect food and don’t waste it in our family, and The Ham takes full advantage of this. I carve plates of thick slices off it as we try to eat our way out of the problem. But days after Christmas it still looks pink, smug and barely touched.
The slices get thicker and drier. Moist is now a memory. January arrives and the final card is played – frying all ham. There’s a flicker of new enthusiasm, but after fried ham and eggs for breakfast, fried ham sandwiches for lunch, fried ham and salad for dinner, interest dies away.
About now a broader anti-ham feeling begins to arise from within the family. I nurture this carefully, pointing out how we can avoid being held hostage like this next year if we decide not to have turkey AND ham.
The big holiday departure day arrives and The Ham demands to go too. It has a good argument. Do we really want to see what it has become in two weeks?
However, its days are numbered. It might think itself part of the family, but travelling long distances in a car is a true test of family commitment. The Ham takes up all the chilly bin while water bottles go warm in the car cup-holders. Irritation grows. Ham sandwich at roadside stop, anyone? No takers.
Finally The Ham’s patron turns on it, and the end is sudden and brutal. It might wake up in a camping ground rubbish bin, or “accidentally” be left at a relation’s place on an overnight stay.
Yet like Groundhog Day, we are doomed to relive this tale over and over. All I can think is that somehow the good and bad, sensible and incomprehensible all belong in the tapestry of family Christmas traditions.
Perhaps at some deep level we need The Ham. That being the case, if B-grade sci-fi movie plots have taught me anything, the answer would be to embrace The Ham, thereby breaking the spell.
Maybe, maybe… nope. Not this Christmas. This Christmas we should just have turkey. Definitely just the turkey. Think of the food miles. *If you too have been seduced by a ham that you can’t get rid of, check out Ginny Grant’s Chop Chop leftover special on page 26. *Christchurch-based Ewan Sargent is a senior reporter in Fairfax Media’s life & style team.