Jake and his new bride Olivia were so excited. After a wonderful Thanksgiving family gathering, Jake and Olivia offered to host Christmas dinner. Wanting to give the new couple their support, and knowing that Olivia was an exceptional cook, the whole family agreed to meet at Jake and Olivia’s for a traditional Christmas dinner.
Olivia knew her way around the kitchen and on the morning of Christmas, she was bustling about getting everything done. The desserts had been prepared the evening before, and now it was time for the centerpiece, a beautiful ham. As Olivia worked, Jake offered to help, and he quickly stepped into the role of sous chef. Jake watched as Olivia worked. She was smooth and confident. His interest piqued as she began to work on the prized ham. Olivia carefully removed it from the package wrapping. She positioned it on the cutting board, and promptly sliced about 3 inches of meat from the ham. She then placed the bulk of the ham in the roasting pan and began preparing the glaze and garnishes. Cutting the end of the ham was something Jake had never seen before, so he asked Olivia, “Honey, why did you cut that piece off the end?”
“Oh, that’s the way my mom taught me. She always cut the end off before putting it in the roaster.”
Jake thought it was curious, but he wasn’t the master chef this day; or any day for that matter, so he let it pass.
As the hours passed and family started arriving, everyone commented as they arrived about the delicious smells of the great pending feast. The yeast rolls, the cinnamon spices, festive music and pumpkin pies, all mingled together to move everyone into the most cheerful mood of the year. Not long after Olivia’s mom arrived, Jake managed to join her as she inspected the goings on in the kitchen. Jake thought about the curious behavior he had seen earlier, from Olivia and decided to ask why. “Mom, “ he said to Olivia’s mother, “Olivia cut the end of the ham off before she put it in the pan and said she did so because that’s the way you always did it. So, why did you do that?” Olivia’s mom thought for a second and then replied, “I did it because that’s how my mom did it.”
Now Jake was really curious. Olivia’s grandmother was well known as an exquisite cook, and if she did it, then there must be a significant culinary reason for doing so. He could not wait for Grandma to arrive.
Soon enough, Olivia’s grandmother arrived, and Jake simply could not contain himself. Giving Grandma a welcoming hug and kiss on the cheek, Jake exclaimed, “Oh, Grandma, I want you to come see what Olivia has done. She said she made the ham just like you did. Come and see.” Well, with that proclamation, Grandma just had to inspect the kitchen and find out how her tradition was being carried on. As they walked across the room toward the kitchen, Jake relayed what he had learned earlier in the day. “Olivia cut the end of the ham off. I thought that was unusual so I asked her why and she said because her mother did it. So when Mom arrived, I asked her why she had cut the end of the ham off, and she told me it was because you had done it. So now, Grandma, I want to know. Why cut the end of the ham off?”
Grandma look puzzled. Then she took her gentle finger and pointed it toward the wonderful ham, resting on the kitchen counter. “Jake, I don’t really know why Olivia cut the end of the ham off, but when I did it, it was because the pan was too short.”