As a child, I wanted nothing more than to be ‘normal.’ What is normal? Well, to a small girl who looked different from all of her classmates, it was what she read in books. Macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, sandwiches, normal – boring. I loved vegetables, I loved broccoli, I didn’t understand how it was possible or why anyone would dislike these things. They taste good. What was there to hate?
I must have driven my mother crazy as a child with my absurd requests. Every day, she would make dinner for a family of five, and we would sit down together and eat. This might sound amazing to you – and I’m sure that one day, when I have a family of my own, I will find it amazing as well – but to us, it was standard procedure. Each day, she’d make rice, vegetables, meat, whatever it was, and I would sullenly request spaghetti or mashed potatoes or anything, anything but rice. I wanted anything, anything but rice. I hated rice. (I’m still not that fond of it.)
At some point, I must have read a book that mentioned a Christmas ham. I became obsessed with Christmas ham. I wanted Christmas ham. I wanted Christmas ham, I wanted ham, I wanted ham, I wanted ham for Christmas.
My father, bless his indulgent heart, caved in one year. I must have been about eight years old, and as headstrong as he, of course his favorite.
Did I mention that on Christmas, my parents unwaveringly served lobster and steak? Imagine how frustrating it was to work your ass off all your life, trying to provide for your children the best you could afford, better than you had as a child, and the youngest one begs for ham. Ham. Of all things, I begged for ham.
I don’t remember a single thing about Christmas that year, except being seated at the table and everyone with their steaks plated… and my plate appearing in front of me. On our standard 10” dinner plates with the little Dutch people… except you couldn’t see the Dutch people. Not an arm, not a foot, not a scrap of hair.
My entire plate was covered in a big pink slab of ham steak.
My eyes grew wide as saucers, and I stared at it. I do recall eating it, or trying valiantly, and probably getting through maybe a fourth of it.
Sure I was happy that I’d been able to try it, but I’d go back to steak and lobster, thankyouverymuch.
You’d think the story ends there, except that I quite foolishly forgot to inform my parents of that decision. And so it was the next year, I found myself with yet another ham steak that I simply poked at before filling up on side dishes.
And promptly forgot to tell my parents again that year to please no longer buy ham steaks.
This went on for a few years – no more than five, total, but more than two, certainly – until one year, I simply freaked out when the ham steak appeared. I screamed, “NO! NO! NO! NO MORE HAM STEAK! I DON’T LIKE IT! I DON’T WANT IT! I WON’T EAT IT!”
My mother silently removed the plate from in front of me, and my father grumpily stated that we would no longer have steak and lobster for dinner on Christmas anymore.
I’d ruined it for everyone.
(I think we started eating only lobster for Christmas after that.)
And yes, I still don’t like ham all that much… especially ham steak.
I am fully aware that this story illustrates beautifully just how bratty I am, and how my parents indulged my whimsy as a child.