What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

Halving the Ham June 24, 2015

It’s funny how every family has a certain peculiar way of doing something. Not everything. I mean we all put eggs on our PB&J right? Just kidding. That sounds heinous, and no one should ever eat that.

But things like how to put the lights on the Christmas tree. How laundry should be sorted. Or in the case of my family, how to cook a ham.

The first step to cooking a ham is to cut it in half. Then you prepare each half of the ham separately. I know. It says so in the family cookbook. It’s how we’ve done it for years. It’s how my great-grandmother made ham! It’s tradition!

Until my mother asked, Why? Why do we cut the ham in half? Is it about cooking time or flavor?


My great-grandmother’s oven when she first got married was too small to fit a whole ham, so she cut it in half and cooked it that way.

It was practical. It got her family fed. But we all kept following those directions in the book for years, not knowing why, but simply because it was how things were supposed to be done. The ham hadn’t needed to be chopped in half in years.

So maybe we should all look at the ham in our lives. What are we doing without really knowing why? Or dream bigger and look at the whole world. What do we accept as unchangeable just because it’s always been done?

Who knows, maybe we’ll find out that we don’t have to cut the ham in half anymore.


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