A few years ago, my wife called and asked if I would stop by the butcher’s shop and pick up a ham for the holiday dinner she was preparing. I told her that I would and proceeded to finish my day at the office.
After work, I stopped by the butcher’s shop and requested the prescribed item and then drove home.
My wife opened the package of ham and said, “Oh, no. Honey, you forgot to tell the butcher to cut off the end of the ham. It’s a tradition and I can’t cook it this way. You need to go back and take care of it.
“I don’t get it,” I replied. “Why is it necessary to cut off the end of a ham? It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “But, that’s always the way we’ve always done it and I’m not about to change it now. I don’t want any evil coming around my home just because you were too lazy to do the right thing.”
“Well,” I said, “Your mother is in the living room. Let’s go ask her why you do it.”
My wife joined me as we went to ask about the ham tradition.
“I don’t know,” my mother-in-law said when asked about the longstanding dilemma. “That’s the way the way my mother taught me and it’s the way I’ll always do it. It’s tradition.”
More convinced than ever to get to the bottom of the mysterious ham cutting tradition, I said, “Let’s call, Grammy. Maybe she’ll know the answer.”
“Happy holiday’s, Grammy,” I said on the speakerphone. “We’ve got a problem that we were hoping you could help us with.”
“I will if I can,” Grammy replied. “What’s the problem?”
“Your granddaughter told me that I need to take our ham back to the butcher to cut the end off the ham. I had never heard of such a tradition and was wondering if you could enlighten us as to where the tradition came from. It has us baffled.