Monday, March 30, 2009

But why HAM?


(Blame any rambling on a fever I've been carrying around with me since yesterday afternoon.)


Because we will not be together in body for the actual date reserved for the celebration that is Easter Sunday, our little family will have an "Easter dinner" this coming Sunday. And of course when this is mentioned the first thought is: Ham. Yes, 'tis true, that when even the not-so-religious contemplate Easter they think of ham. Pork as resurrection meal. It's always been a bit head spinning for me.


I grew up spending Easter in Chicago. We would trek all the way from the city to the suburbs to find a church of the Reformed persuasion where we could celebrate our Lord's Resurrection. I still can envision the visible thoughts on the faces of the usual attendees as we marched in reeking of the stale smoke that permeated our hair and even our Sunday best courtesy of two chain-smoking grandparents. This was not the norm at all in Elmhurst.


After the long drive back, I would be greeted at the base of the stairs to my granparents' home with the sweet smell of ham and assorted other steamy-aired scents. This was a feast as it was time to break with Lent and wholeheartedly ingest copious amounts of meat. And though I now shudder with my nose curled up at this mental picture (and the really odd reasoning behind it)...part of Easter dinner included a big plate of butter in the shape of a lamb. There was a cake in the shape of a lamb too. Imagine this loud, smoke-filled group plying butter from this molded dairy image.


SIGH


But ham. Just today, then, Madeline asked "why do we eat ham at Easter?" It's certainly no Judaic tradition unless somehow the Israelites had figured out how to make ham kosher. And it's really nothing mentioned anywhere in terms of Christian tradition. Interestingly, when looking for information for Miss 1000 Questions, some have suggested some sort of pagan tie-in. More plausible, however, is the idea that a pig slaughtered in the fall and cured/smoked would still be "good" and most definitely ready to eat come this time of year. Perhaps ham simply because it was practical....as opposed to the lack of practicality in standing outside a HoneyBaked store hoping there's a ham left for your Easter feast.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Someone told me...

that they knew how bad it is out there because they know people who lost their jobs.

I'd love to be able to say that I know what it's like to be rail thin because I've known someone who is, in fact, rail thin.

I tried in junior high to know what it's like to have perfect Farrah-esque hair curls by knowing a girlfriend who could do with a curling iron what Beethoven did with a piano.

In high school I stopped trying a bit....though I tried to know what it was like to be popular by lending my favorite blazer to an uber-popular female. Instead I got my blazer back with a big stain.

All of this to say that one can't truly understand ANYTHING simply by knowing someone who does. Knowing the panic and anxiety of job loss is something that must be done in the first person. Being thin can only be understood by someone who tosses aside the size 6 jeans as they deftly put on the 4s. Good hair is a feeling that is best experienced - if one is among the follically challenged - only on the day of the actual haircut. And knowing what it is to have friends or walk in a particular circle can only be experienced by truly being there, for artificial acceptance is really no acceptance at all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The origins of the N-Word, Nasty Dutchmen, & Mission Stations

We are reading Tom Sawyer together and I'm explaining a lot of vernacular to my children. It has been interesting. My own father will explain to them just why the "N Word" was perfectly acceptable in his day in age for, in the seemingly smaller world he grew up in, all Africans came from the country of Niger. Truly. At the same time we recently finished discussing the Boers and other South African activity as part of a history survey we have been doing from, quite literally, time's beginning to the present. The Dutch have suddenly turned a not so bright corner in my children's eyes and they are revelling in the fact that they are mutts and not 100% anything in terms of nationality. During all of this I have completed reading The Poisonwood Bible giving me a glimpse of 1960s African mission stations as seen through the eyes of women of varying ages.

All of the above are an exercise I wholeheartedly endorse for anyone. The conversations that have sprung up have run the gamut from socialism and democracy (one is an economic theory by the way, the other is not), what a nation's responsibility is toward a group of people who seemingly can't compete in a modern economy, and just what the wealthy should feel toward the less than wealthy. Then there are the dilemmas over going into all the world and, as Maddie puts it, "...but how do we fix certain sins?" (She is referring here to the polygamist nature of many tribes and just what one is to do about all the wives who are relying on one husband and all the children sharing a father....how do we fix this?)

It's been a good week....we need to exercise our brains and engage in good conversation....it's good for the spirit, good for the soul, wonderful food for the brain.