Since 2010 I have posted this story around the holidays. It has become a Madrona Grove tradition. The ham story is a about generations and tradition.
My mother’s mid-western family has many traditions. One that is especially unique is making fresh Oyster Stew on New Years. My mother’s Minnesotan family originates from the Rhine River valley of Germany, apparently near a place where you can get good oysters. Mom says her grandma made it as a holiday soup, and her mother made it for new years. My parents would take us on the one and a half hour drive to Minterbrook Oyster Farm in Gig Harbor every year for the “freshest oysters in Western Washington”
Some other traditions in my family for Thanksgiving include a pause in prayer before dinner and a round-table mention of what we are thankful for for the year.
This year with the Ferguson, Missouri riots and equal rights demonstrations flaring up across the nation, I’m thinking of freedoms. How wonderful is freedom? The freedom of speech, the freedom to walk down the street or drive a car without harassment. The freedom to not wear a burqa or a head scarf and NOT be arrested. All the freedoms I have in my day, my freedom to write, to speak, to share my thoughts, feelings and poetry on this website. I’m thankful even for the freedoms I have yet to discover. I’m thankful for the supportive writing community here in Bellingham. I especially enjoy reciprocation—when sharing and respect come full circle and friendships are formed.
Whatever your traditions, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving, good food, good love and a warm soul.
Best wishes, -Shannon P. Laws
It’s Time for Ham!
OK, true story:
One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is the youngest daughters first time hosting the family dinner, and she’s a little nervous.
Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?”
“Well,” answers the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.”
“Why?”, asks the daughter.
“I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the young woman’s grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?”
“Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the young woman’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”
“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”
It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham.