Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Holidays => Topic started by: weeblewobble on December 19, 2013, 05:46:56 AM

Title: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: weeblewobble on December 19, 2013, 05:46:56 AM
http://www.creators.com/advice/annies-mailbox/transsexual-women-are-women.html

Today's query comes from the comment section of Annie's Mailbox (12-19-13.)  In response to a letter about holiday meal traditions, a commenter, Johanna, stated that for years, her brother and SIL have INSISTED on hosting Christmas dinner.  They forbid anyone from bringing anything and get insulted/defensive when the other relatives offer to bring something.  They claim it's their gift to the family.

The problem?  They serve ham. And only ham.  No side dishes, no salads, no desserts, no drinks besides water.  Just ham, on paper plates with plastic utensils.  And while the family sits around gnawing on their slices of ham, the brother and SIL sit there and compliment each other on the wonderful meal.

This is has gone on for years. Johanna noted that these people are well off and have gone to restaurants, so they are aware that most meals involve sides and drinks besides water.

So I ask you ehellions, how would you handle this? I know we've said over and over that it's wrong to criticize someone's hospitality, but this just seems weird. Personally, I think I would just start bringing side dishes without asking permission.  SIL's ham-stranglehold on the family dinner only continues because the family allows it.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on December 19, 2013, 06:00:37 AM
I think I'd stop going and do my own thing at home, honestly.  And perhaps if enough family members refused to join in the ham-only festivities, they'd get the point faster than they would if people argued.

Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 19, 2013, 06:12:26 AM
I'd just quit going, and I'd tell them why. I can't think of any reasonable excuse for them to serve just ham and water.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: lady_disdain on December 19, 2013, 06:14:09 AM
If it were my brother and I was close to him, I would tell him straight out: "Dude, ham only does not a meal make. You need a salad, a potato dish and other drinks, not just water, at the very least. Do you want me to bring some of those, make them yourselves or find someone else to host?" Then again, we are pretty straight forward in my family. Some other family members might just show up with a large salad or side dish the following year.

If I weren't that close, I would just make different plans.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: crella on December 19, 2013, 06:24:04 AM
"Ham, ham,ham,ham and ham"
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Cz. Burrito on December 19, 2013, 06:25:21 AM
That is utterly bizarre. I'd bring something anyway. "You're saying I can't cook?" "Well, apparently you won't."
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: sammycat on December 19, 2013, 06:25:50 AM
Just ham and water.... how extremely bizarre. ???

I can't come up with any reasonable explanation as to why they think this is a good idea.  Nor can I come up with any reasonable explanations as to why people have tolerated it for this long. If this was my sibling I'd have told them years ago that this just wasn't on and refused to attend if it had continued.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: rm247 on December 19, 2013, 06:27:12 AM
Are you sure it's Ham and not Spam?

We all know Spam, Spam, Spam & Spam makes a great meal.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: blue2000 on December 19, 2013, 06:38:28 AM
Most people in our family would have walked out the first dinner, gone to get sides from any store/restaurant/whatever that is open, and spent the remainder of the dinnertime sympathising about the host's finances, since apparently they can no longer afford food.

If you don't want to go to all that trouble, simply going home for dinner or not ever accepting another invitation would be acceptable. I too have to wonder why this has gone on for years now. ???
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Harriet Jones on December 19, 2013, 06:46:01 AM
I wonder why it's gone on for years, too.  You'd think by now, everyone else would have gotten together and either talked to them or organized stuff to bring.  Or gone somewhere else.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on December 19, 2013, 06:52:42 AM
I get that some people have a favorite meal, but that a very ham-handed way of enforcing it.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: veryfluffy on December 19, 2013, 07:01:44 AM
I don't understand why everyone keeps going to this. These people can INSIST on hosting as much as they like, but if everyone declines, or someone decides they'd like to host and gives the rest of the family the option, then...tough noogies. It will leave more ham for the brother and SIL, since they like it so much.

Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: staceym on December 19, 2013, 07:12:49 AM
I also wonder why this has gone on so long and why when the invitation goes out someone doesn't ask

"what are you having besides ham?""  and if they say nothing, then say "well then I'm bringing ... and I'll tell aunt Mary to bring ..."
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Margo on December 19, 2013, 07:55:47 AM
The link goes to a different letter - I can't find the one about ham.

That said,  in that situation I would stop attending. I think showing up with sides & desserts when you've specifically been told not to is rude (so is demanding everyone come to your home for a meal, and then failing to provide a meal, but retaliatory rudeness isn't appropriate!)

I thin that I would consider sending a message round to the family early on, before invitations/summons have been sent, saying that you plan to spend christmas at your own home but would be delighted to host hose family members who would like to join you.

And if no one takes you up on it, well - maybe they're happy with ham and water.



Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on December 19, 2013, 07:59:03 AM
I get that some people have a favorite meal, but that a very ham-handed way of enforcing it.
Ouch.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: ti_ax on December 19, 2013, 08:13:55 AM
The link goes to a different letter - I can't find the one about ham.
The ham story is found in the comments to the column.

I'm with those who wonder how this tradition ever got to Year 2.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: cicero on December 19, 2013, 08:58:42 AM
wow, even my clueless/chaotic brother and sil manage to put together a meal. it may be take out food served on paper plates from disposable pans, but there is a meal. Serving *just* ham and water AND not allowing anyone to bring anything else is bizarre. i don't know why that family is putting up with it.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: cwm on December 19, 2013, 09:24:03 AM
Don't get me wrong, I love ham. But just ham and water? That's not a meal. That's a snack.

Someone needs to straight up ask this dude what his deal is. The only possible explanation I can come up with is maybe a very restrictive diet necessitated by a doctor, and ham is the only "holiday" food that one of them can eat? But that's still dirt-poor hosting by the family to not let anyone else bring anything and not explain it. And then to still insist on hosting, that's just weird.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: JenJay on December 19, 2013, 09:36:51 AM
I wouldn't go
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Lynn2000 on December 19, 2013, 09:39:38 AM
Well, actually I love ham and I dislike big holiday meals, so... Sounds good to me!  ;D Although I would probably consider the stop at their house more like an appetizer--assuming it is really awesome ham worth stopping for--and then go eat at a restaurant somewhere.

But seriously, once this has happened to you a couple of times, it's on you if you keep going back for more instead of declining. I do think it would be rude to bring sides when the host has specifically forbidden them, because people always have the option of just not going. I get that this can be hard to do with family but honestly--that behavior is so weird, I would be more concerned with the hosts' grasp of reality.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Pen^2 on December 19, 2013, 09:42:30 AM
That's weird. "We insist you all come over here and eat nothing but ham and ham and ham and maybe some water, but don't forget we also have ham!"

I'd just RSVP that my family (whoever lives in my household: spouse, kids, etc.) wouldn't be attending. If asked for a reason, I'd say directly but pleasantly, "We're going to eat more than just ham for that meal. Have fun without us!" And respond to any insisting with, "I'm afraid that won't be possible. We're going to eat more than just ham for that meal." I like Margo's idea of RSVPing like this in an email so all the other family members can see it, and adding something about how others are welcome to join you.

If one family does it, then others will likely not feel as bad if they want to follow suit. And frankly, it's such a weird thing to do, that I don't think it's rude to explain why if asked. Helpful, possibly, since they are unknowingly being poor hosts. Not wanting guests to bring extra dishes is a host's right, but being offended when someone merely politely offers help for a large family meal? That actually is rude, I think.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: greencat on December 19, 2013, 09:44:52 AM
Cut them off at the pass and issue invites early, with a full menu attached.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Yvaine on December 19, 2013, 10:11:18 AM
The link goes to a different letter - I can't find the one about ham.

The ham story is in the comment section.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Bees on December 19, 2013, 10:45:21 AM
When I say that's unbelievable I mean that literally. I call shenanigans on the letter writer. You don't have to believe everything you read on a website.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 19, 2013, 10:49:36 AM
Cut them off at the pass and issue invites early, with a full menu attached.

W i n n e r  !!

When they insist on their way only be prepared to say "that will not be possible" 

Ho, Ho, Ho enjoy the holidays with family and fruitcakes.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Yvaine on December 19, 2013, 10:50:33 AM
When I say that's unbelievable I mean that literally. I call shenanigans on the letter writer. You don't have to believe everything you read on a website.

It might well be shenanigans. It's all theoretical for us anyway, though, since the writer isn't here asking our advice. I do wonder what I'd do if this were my relative!  ;D
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: amylouky on December 19, 2013, 11:02:32 AM
I do not like ham, ham, and ham. I do not like it, Brother I am. I do not like it with H20. I do not like it, no no no.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: shhh its me on December 19, 2013, 11:22:35 AM
  It's so bizarre I would keep going ,   (I'm second shenanigans ) I guess in theory they could be militant  meat only eaters and have been deeply offended by all the bread and vegetables they have been served or my person favorite theory one of them is doing a long term experiment RE how far people will go to met family exceptions.   I would offer to bring more ham :)
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Redneck Gravy on December 19, 2013, 11:25:07 AM
  It's so bizarre I would keep going ,   (I'm second shenanigans ) I guess in theory they could be militant  meat only eaters and have been deeply offended by all the bread and vegetables they have been served or my person favorite theory one of them is doing a long term experiment RE how far people will go to met family exceptions.   I would offer to bring more ham :)

thanks, and now I get to clean coffee off my screen

I keep remembering Mr Blanding Builds His Dream House ... if it ain't Wham, it ain't Ham

Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: tinkytinky on December 19, 2013, 11:34:16 AM
I'm sorry, but nobody can monopolize any event without your (general) saying ok.

I think i would send out invites to everyone saying that you will provide the gathering place, dinner ware, silverware, serving pieces, one main dish and 2-3 sides. Of course others will ask what to bring and 'ham lovers' will probably say " but that's OUR holiday tradition" to which you can offer an alternative of "This is something new we are trying, nothing is stopping you from having your gathering, we just wanted to host a family get together" or "I know you do a FABULOUS job with the HAM, so if you want to bring that to add to the meal of turkey and sides, that's fantastic!"

again, you aren't monopolizing the gathering, it is simply an additional one. (of course 'ham lovers' might whine about 'nobody will come to ours if they go to yours first!)
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: AzaleaBloom on December 19, 2013, 11:37:35 AM
I second shhh's thoughts that it might be one of those things where it's just so bizarre, people keep going.  It may also be that the company is good, they all enjoy the shared moments of trying to avoid hysterical laughter, and the lack of a good meal may not be that big of a deal to them. 
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: bah12 on December 19, 2013, 11:41:53 AM
As ridiculous and hard to believe as this sounds, the basic answer is that when you accept someone's hospitality, you sort have to accept it.  Yes, the hosts are obligated to provide meals during mealtimes, etc, but if what they are offering is a ham for dinner, then it's pretty much rude to insist that they offer something else (even if their lack of a complete meal doesn't reflect well on their sense of good dinner hosting). Sure, a good way to 'hint' that their hospitality is lacking is to offer to do it yourself, but if they refuse any side dishes, then showing up for the holiday dinner kind of requires you to accept the ham and thank them for it sincerely.  If side dishes are a must, then decline the invitation.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on December 19, 2013, 11:42:30 AM
I do not like ham, ham, and ham. I do not like it, Brother I am. I do not like it with H20. I do not like it, no no no.

Ouch #2.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Pen^2 on December 19, 2013, 11:48:23 AM
I would offer to bring more ham :)

This is perfect! You win the thread.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Dr. F. on December 19, 2013, 11:58:09 AM
That sounds like more of a performance art project than a holiday meal, particularly with the "hosts" congratulating themselves on such a wonderful meal.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: magicdomino on December 19, 2013, 11:59:31 AM
"Sorry bro, I've converted to Judism."

Okay, maybe not, and I too wonder if the situation is exaggerated.  Assuming it is true (because people can be very weird), I would have quit going the third year.  First time, maybe it is a strange diet.  Second time, surely they aren't still on the ham kick, are they?  Third Christmas, I'm sorry, I've got plans for some macaroni-and-cheese and a bowl of applesauce with my very own ham.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: MrTango on December 19, 2013, 01:37:15 PM
I'd host a party at my place with a full meal and invite everyone.  If they get upset that I'm not letting them host, I'd reply with "just because I'm hosting a dinner party doesn't mean you can't invite people to your own event."
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 19, 2013, 01:50:01 PM
I'd host a party at my place with a full meal and invite everyone.  If they get upset that I'm not letting them host, I'd reply with "just because I'm hosting a dinner party doesn't mean you can't invite people to your own event."

The dueling dinners!
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: problemattic on December 19, 2013, 02:10:42 PM
I feel a bit guilty because I know it isn't terribly amusing for the OP to endure this weirdness, but I will admit to laughing out loud when I read the post.  You just can't say, "Now, I've seen everything," until you've worked your way through the winding hallways of eHell.  Pass the ham.  Great ham!  Is there any ham left?  Could I just get a bit more ham on my ham? 

I thought I had it bad.  For years, FIL "prepared" a bloody, oozing, undercooked lump of beef each Thanksgiving, with sides of green beans and dinner rolls.  I don't eat beef.  He knew that, but wouldn't allow anyone to contribute other dishes.  Now, I know how lucky I was to have had the green beans and dinner rolls!  I'll be more careful to include side dishes among the blessings I count each year.  And I'll never look at ham the same way again. 
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: JoyinVirginia on December 19, 2013, 02:23:45 PM
I want spam, spam, spam, eggs and spam please!
But I don't like spam!
Now everyone join in with the Vikings on a hearty chorus of ”SPAM, WONDERFUL SPAM!”
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on December 19, 2013, 03:29:33 PM
  It's so bizarre I would keep going ,   (I'm second shenanigans ) I guess in theory they could be militant  meat only eaters and have been deeply offended by all the bread and vegetables they have been served or my person favorite theory one of them is doing a long term experiment RE how far people will go to met family exceptions.   I would offer to bring more ham :)

thanks, and now I get to clean coffee off my screen

I keep remembering Mr Blanding Builds His Dream House ... if it ain't Wham, it ain't Ham

/pedantic on
"If you ain't eating Wham, you ain't eating ham!"
/pedantic off

Sorry, Cary Grant is my favorite actor who ever lived, and I have that movie (and His Girl Friday) virtually memorized.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Thipu1 on December 19, 2013, 04:42:50 PM
In the view of some, 'eternity' is defined as two people and a ham. 

Like others, we like ham and will be having a small one for Christmas.  However, ham and water does not make a festive Holiday meal.  Other family members should have stepped in long before this. 
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: DoubleTrouble on December 19, 2013, 05:23:22 PM
Don't get me wrong, I love ham. But just ham and water? That's not a meal. That's a snack.

In my family not even that, ham needs mustard & if there aren't at least 3 different kinds we're not serving the ham right! Good grief, I would have walked out if that was all there was.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: jedikaiti on December 19, 2013, 05:37:31 PM
Are you sure it's Ham and not Spam?

We all know Spam, Spam, Spam & Spam makes a great meal.

Were I in attendance, I might have to duct tape my mouth to keep from reciting that skit.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on December 19, 2013, 08:19:45 PM
I agree with those who say just stop going.  As we say here, an invitation is not a summons.  Have your (generic your) holiday dinner the way you want it.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: delabela on December 20, 2013, 12:04:27 AM
Not even bacon on the side?

I would totally keep going - their real gift to the family all is the conversation at the diner where people have gone after the ham appetizer to have a real meal and speculate as to what would motivate someone to serve ham all on it's lonesome.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: zyrs on December 20, 2013, 12:14:53 AM
I told my wife about the menu.  Her jaw dropped and she said; "You're kidding.  That's just insane."  We both agree that that would have only happened one year.

And I hope it's shenanigans.  Or at least that this couple has no children because said children probably wouldn't be getting good nutrition.

Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: CakeEater on December 20, 2013, 05:26:51 AM
I do not like ham, ham, and ham. I do not like it, Brother I am. I do not like it with H20. I do not like it, no no no.

 ;D Nice!
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Softly Spoken on December 22, 2013, 10:58:57 AM
 ??? :o
umm....maybe they're on extreme Atkins? Otherwise I got nothing as far as a motive for such insanity.

The funny thing is, I was looking at ham at the store the other day and it is freakin expensive! :( If I were the couple I would blow my holiday budget on the best ham I could afford, and be super grateful that everyone else could contribute sides and dessert to round out the family meal. The meal could be everyone's gift to everyone else, and I could retain my pride in being able to provide the centerpiece of glazed meaty goodness.

Ham is awesome, but not good enough to usurp every other holiday dish. Just...no.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: NyaChan on December 22, 2013, 12:34:38 PM
This post makes me laugh because something like this wouldn't happen even once in my family.  If we showed up to our relative's house and found only a meat dish with no sides, people would immediately be getting more food together and telling the hosts not to worry about formality, they'd be happy to help cook or pick things up!  There'd probably be some good natured ribbing as well (translated) "Jeez bro, you were just going to serve us plain meat? No rice, no gravy?"
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Lady Snowdon on December 22, 2013, 12:50:12 PM
Perhaps these folks watched this youtube video and though you weren't supposed to serve ham with anything else?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF3sjgF9Yhg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF3sjgF9Yhg) - It's a video of how to carve a ham, but part of it shows the guy handing a plate of ham to two people who have nothing on their plates but a slice of bread. 
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: nutraxfornerves on December 22, 2013, 01:00:00 PM
Perhaps they buy this ham:

(http://www.grokdotcom.com/wp-content/uploads/Robert/hanukkah_ham.jpg)
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: snowfire on December 22, 2013, 02:55:49 PM
Now THAT is an Epic Fail!
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: m2kbug on December 22, 2013, 05:47:23 PM
I'm surprised nobody has said anything "for years."  Really?  I would have said something.  You provide sides.  You provide dessert.  You provide beverages.  We are happy to bring these.  If nobody could talk sense into these people, I would just stay home.  Maybe plan on having dinner at my place or someone else's place.  That's pretty bizarre that they only served ham.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Paper Roses on December 22, 2013, 06:01:31 PM
I don't know.  I get that truth is often stranger than fiction, but I'm having a really difficult time believing this.  The thought that someone would actually do it, first of all, and on top of that the idea that everyone would go along with it. 

Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: rose red on December 22, 2013, 06:48:18 PM
I love ham, but that's just unappetizing.  It needs at least one side.  A piece of bread.  Anything. 

I would have stopped going years ago.  Perhaps most of that family learned to eat beforehand.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: scarlett on December 23, 2013, 01:37:37 PM
I read the synopsis to DH and the kids yesterday and they were astonished that the letter writer would continue going back year after year. Then I threatened everyone with turkey and water for Christmas and was promptly voted down. That is not hosting of any sort.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Library Dragon on December 24, 2013, 10:23:47 PM
Homer Zuckerman: There he is!
Arable: That's some pig.
Avery Arable: He's terrific.
Lurvy: He's radiant.
Mrs. Zuckerman: Well, he's clean anyway. That buttermilk glass of water certainly helped.

Charlotte's Web
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Pen^2 on December 25, 2013, 12:00:04 PM
As DH and I were tucking into ham sandwiches yesterday, I mentioned this story to him. He was incredulous, but pointed out that if it was true, then it'd be worth going to anyway as an entree to a real lunch elsewhere, because it's such a crazy story to laugh over.
Title: Re: "Nothing goes with ham like a side of ham!"
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on December 25, 2013, 12:11:20 PM
Just wanted to add this reminds me of Jim Gaffigan's routine about Domino's (the part that's relevant starts at 2:25)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kapaSTpYc0I