Tomorrow on New Year’s Day, a group of friends will get together for the twentieth annual Ham O’Rama. The party happens every year on January 1st and while it's a wonderful tradition for all of us, for me personally it means the end is here. The end of the stressful holiday/birthday marathon that has me starting every new year with my eyes spinning in their sockets.
Ham O'Rama began when my Jewish friend, we’ll call him “Dave”, started receiving a ham for Christmas from his employer. Dave, being one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, took the opportunity to out this totally non-PC gift by cooking the ham for his friends and Ham O’Rama was born.
Dave and his wife supply the ham and the other five couples bring a side dish. Our family missed the first several years of Ham O’Rama. You see, it states very clearly in the Ham O’Rama by-laws, vegetarians aren’t allowed. We were vegetarian for about nine years before falling off the wagon, but once we fell, we were welcomed into the fold.
We made a lot of Ham O’Rama mistakes in those early years, most alarmingly the first year when we forgot our slippers. And then there was the year we hosted and very nearly forgot the Hawaiian bread (for ham sandwiches later.) We will not discuss the great divisive Ham O’Rama debate of the Paulina Meat Market vs. the Schaul’s ham.
For me, Ham O’Rama is probably my favorite day of the entire holiday season. Partly because it means my December marathon is over. Every year I start dreading the month of December somewhere around July 19th. Have I mentioned in the last fifteen minutes all three of my children have birthdays in December? But by New Year’s Day, it’s all over. Ham O’Rama is the party I can wear blue jeans and an old sweatshirt to. I don’t come home with a jaw tight from smiling too hard at too many strangers unfunny jokes. It’s a party with my oldest and dearest friends. I can be myself and they like me anyway. And I can’t think of a better way to start a new year.
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