Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ham Loaf Saga

Yesterday was supposed to be pretty easy.  I was super prepared and organized.  I had gone through each recipe that Nanny used for Christmas with the exception of jello salads and reorganized them into a single document.  Then, using that document, I went through everything and did the math on every ingredient, noting how much of everything was needed, whether we had it in the pantry or needed it on the list.

Then there was my list.  My shopping list was beautiful!  A neatly organized Excel file categorized by where the items were in the store.  I planned for a breakfast casserole to cook overnight, snacks for the day and happy hour, and of course Christmas dinner, which will be on Saturday while my sister and her husband are here.

I had one stop to make in a town that's not at all on the way to Waco, but had to go all the same.  I'd promised some bows to a store over there, and after staying up extra late to make them, we'd deliver them and then head to Waco to get groceries and the last couple of other errands we needed to run.

The morning was going very smoothly.  Ryan was happy, the littles were great.  Richie was even super cute as I dropped him off at school, turning back to wave several times.  Then we were off to execute the day I'd so carefully planned.  See, I had to be back at 2:30 to get Richie, then we had to get Ryan at 3:25 and his speech appointment at home would be at 4:30.

We drove the twenty miles or so, pulled up to the store, and guess what?

I forgot they don't open until ten.  It was 9:02.

After reeling in my failure to think this through, including an explanation to my daughter who likes that place and didn't understand why we'd drive up and then leave, we headed on to Waco after a short stop for breakfast.  The two stops we made before the store were easy.   Then we pull up to the store and I realize I made my beautiful shopping list with the wrong store in mind.

No big deal, I still have all the items on the list.  Just have to be a little more careful to make sure I look at the right part of the list.  I even remembered to grab the insulated bags and the "green" shopping bags before I went in!  I could still get everything done today and have Wednesday to clean and tie loose ends at the house.

After a successful trip to the produce section, we made our way to the meat counter.  I knew what Nanny always did for her wonderful, once-a-year ham loaves.  She always went to the store, bought a ham, and had it ground.  By "always" I mean for over fifty years.  This is possible.  It has been done.  Granted, in a different state, but what does that matter?

So I stood at the meat counter with my shopping list, still feeling pridefully organized.  I'd ask for the ham ground, it would be done by the time we finished our other shopping, and I would pick it up at the end.

After having an employee or two look at me like I had lobsters crawling out my ears, I found the guy who could help.  He was still quite puzzled as to why I wanted a raw ham ground, but said he'd get a picnic ham and grind it for me.  No big deal.  He even let me pick how finely I'd like it ground!  I felt like such a big girl.  Surely Nanny was smiling somewhere, knowing that her favorite Christmas dinner recipe was in such great hands!

Only one problem... no picnic hams left.  The only hams he had left were smoked.  Whoops.  The quickest he could possibly have it done would be tomorrow after a truck came.  No problem.  I'll just have it done in town!  Better to spend money in town anyway, right?

After a few phone calls over lunch, my husband let me know there was no one in our area that would do it.  One man even went to the trouble to tell him the reasoning why.  He could do it, but they have one meat grinder, and if he did that he'd have to clean the whole thing before grinding anything else.

So we came home with everything... and I mean EVERYTHING... but the ham for the ham loaves.

I woke up this morning dreading another drive to Waco.  And how do I get everything done at home?

So that's why I'm telling you all this.

No, really.

Yes, I'm tired.  Yes, I have a lot to do.  Honestly, I'd planned to reprint a Christmas post from the past so that I could keep running.

Then last night, in keeping another promise I'd made, I was playing in an ensemble of our friends/colleagues for a Study Club party in town.  In between rubbing my exhausted face that isn't used to playing much anymore and remembering to watch the key as to not blast any klunkers, I caught myself playing "Silent Night".

I pictured my kids, at home watching a movie with their Granny while I played.

I thought about what they would remember from this Christmas.

I considered what I remember from Christmas as a kid.

I pondered what I want the kids to glean from the festivities.

Not one thing I could think of had anything to do with ham loaf, perfectly crafted shopping lists, or a super clean house.

I do remember wishing I could be with certain folks.

I remember Christmases before Eric when I longed for him, although I hadn't met him.

I remember Christmases with Eric, when we looked forward to having kids.

I remember wishing I could be home.

So here I am again, forcing myself to slow down and attempt to live up to another promise... this time much more important.  The promise to remember and savor.  The promise to taste every aspect of Christmas with the awe and wonder of my children.  The promise to remember what we have.  It wasn't that long ago when we couldn't afford Christmas cards, because the postage was more than we had to spend on all three kids combined.

We have so very much.  We have been brought through so much.  We have been rescued from so much.  And while there are many responsibilities of the season, the biggest is to remember not to be one of the innkeepers who shooed Mary and Joseph away.

Let us make room.

Thanks be to God!


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