Ham Means Home
I have my own personal observances and idiosyncracies when it comes to remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the night before Easter, and I often have viewed this limbo time of the seasons as a resurgent mid-breath between the real end of winter and the true beginning of warmer, better weather, a glad intermission between the hell of a bad play and the promise of a kinder and gentler second act.
This too is a rebirth of our own. We shed the old, dead coat for new, fresh linens and blossoms of the soul and we do so with those close to us, ones who share our common bond of struggle and effort and work and life. And if we’re lucky, we get to share some ham as well.
I have always regarded the pig as an animal who, while a supposedly intelligent creature, would never understand how much they mean to people like me who search for meaning in thy daily bread. Bread may be the spiritual house of our diet, but pork chops and pulled pork and baby back ribs and bacon are the music that play during. And if those are the music, ham is without a doubt a full, rich melody. Tender and sweet and velvet in the sweep of its flavor, its solid salt base reminding me of the rock that is Jesus, ham is the reaffirmation in the meal I take to recognize the gift we have been given. Not just in a new spiritual life of spring, but that which we are given in the life Jesus gave so that ours may go on.
Yet each year, when I’m biting and shoveling forkful after heavy forkful of tasty ham into my mouth, I wonder to myself and aloud why we don’t have ham more often. It isn’t as though this ham tastes worse in August than in April (and deli ham for a sandwich doesn’t count). Ham, my ham, when it’s served as it is at Easter – slow cooked with the big bone in and glazed to slick perfection with fatty rivulets beckoning — is a perfection. And no offense, but I always equate it to Jesus. That is when it always comes back to me and I remember why this ham remains an annual tradition only: Ham is Home. Ham is the New Year. Ham is Easter.
And that is why I’ll only have ham like that once a year. It’s both a tribute and a gift. And I am oh, so grateful and humble to receive it.
I hope you all have a wonderful, remarkable Easter.
Now go eat something. –Jack