Christmas Snow Leaves A Lot of Ham

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2011

Think twice before crooning that old Bing Crosby classic, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.” You may be stuck with a lot of ham.

Our rare snow-white Christmas was pretty, but it disrupted lots of plans.

The five inches of snowy powder provided us with a free Christmas dinner.

Neighbors Deb and Ralph Harding were expecting to entertain a dozen of their out-of-town relatives Christmas night. They all cancelled rather than risk the hazardous roads, leaving Deb with an 11-pound ham and all the side dishes. Hidden Creek neighbors gladly substituted as their relatives.

Had the snow started falling a day earlier, even more Christmas traditions would have been disrupted. The many Christmas Eve love feasts, communions and masses would have been paralyzed. Family gatherings would have been delayed.

The first hints of snow began falling at 11 a.m. Christmas day. We had Christmas breakfast at my in-laws and lunch at my mother’s house. The Sparks clan ate and ran this year, wanting to get off the road before the snow began to stick.

Christmas events turned me philosophic: Beware doing something new on Christmas because you might start a 50-year tradition.

Elizabeth’s father cooks once a year, only on Christmas morning. He makes eggs a la goldenrod, a concoction of gravy and boiled eggs poured over toast. Yolks are sprinkled on top, the “goldenrod” of the recipe. The process takes a lot of time.

Before Christmas, my father-in-law suggested a change: How about scrambled eggs this year? Easily made. Little mess. Quick clean up.

The polling results were disastrous. The grandchildren were appalled. Anybody can scramble an egg, one said. He can only get eggs a la goldenrod at Papa Bill’s.

That’s what we had again. The grandchildren pitched in to learn the family recipe.

Moravians have a saying: Do it once and it’s a tradition. That’s evident at Christmas. The church first served a love feast in 1727. The Moravian star traces back to the 1830s. The Moravian cookie, however, transcends denominational ties. This year, the Moravian cookie got an unusual boost. Oprah cited Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookie Factory’s ginger spice cookies as one of her “favorite things” for Christmas. The Clemmons store had to add a Saturday shift to handle the extra sales.

My former congregation, Mayodan Moravian, didn’t serve the traditional love feast buns. We ate sugar cake with our coffee. Some church members wanted to switch to buns, brewing quite a controversy. Pastor Steve Craver suggested a palatable solution: Serve both and let worshippers vote with their fingers.

Sugar cake won three to one.

Craver, now at Rural Hall Moravian, stopped by a few weeks ago. We laughed about that old experiment. Few church controversies, he observed, are about the essentials of the Christian faith. We usually fuss about the little things. Sugar cake or buns. Traditional music or new. Regular or decaf coffee. Lots of Christians get their feelings hurt over things that have nothing to do with the faith. Hymn selection is more important than the sermon topic.

Moravians probably should be credited with inventing the latte. That milky sweet coffee served at love feasts has translated into millions of dollars of sales for Starbucks. As a boy, I loved that coffee. As an adult, I like mine black and unsweetened. That’s apostasy, of course.

Moravian buns were in short supply this year — hard to find in the stores. In another example of bending religious rules, we ate ham on Moravian buns at the Harding house. Now that it’s a tradition, I hope they invite us back next Christmas.