Unmasked by a Dumb, Homeless Guy and a HoneyBaked Ham
It is time to talk about the ham incident of 2014.
Some of you will recall my Facebook posts about it. I am not proud of the way I responded to the situation. I have much to confess about my attitude at the time. I can only hope that you do not lose the bit of respect you may have developed for me. How would you ever find it again amongst the realizations that I am a lunatic?
Oh, well . . . it must be done. Let me tell you the story.
It was a week before Christmas and I was beyond busy. The Christmas season takes the crazy of my normal day, wraps it up with a strand of stress and ties a big, frazzled bow on top. And on this particular day, I was running late . . . again.
I was headed to an appointment with my beautician because, as we all know, no woman wants to spend Christmas with the roots of her hair looking like Santa’s beard. As I drove up the main street of our little town singing The Christmas Song with James Taylor on the radio, I glanced to the left at my husband’s law office.
I saw two boxes sitting on the porch. I had gotten a notification from Amazon saying that the theology books I had ordered for my nephew’s Christmas present had been delivered. So I knew what was in the smaller box. I slowed down as I approached the building and squinted at the larger box, “What in the world? . . . Hey, maybe . . . Could it be? . . . I think it might . . . Yes, it is! . . . Hallelujah! . . . It’s my HoneyBaked Ham!”
This is no ordinary ham. It is a fine, lean specimen of a ham, marinated in a sauce made with Christmas magic, smoked over hardwood chips, topped with a smack-your-mama, sweet sauce, and spiral sliced for my convenience. The ham is sent to my husband every Christmas by a long-time client and it is so good your mama will turn the other cheek when you slap her . . . as long as you share a little of it with her.
It is delicious. But there is oh-so-much more to this ham. Because our family Christmas meal is traditionally shrimp, I freeze the ham and serve it on the following Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is, by far, the biggest of the sit-down meals in our extended family. There is an overwhelming amount of food on the table and preparation time spent in the kitchen. Ownership of that ham (which, by the way, I simply thaw and serve) gives me the ability to assign the purchasing, storing, preparing, baking, and carving of the turkey to my sister-in-law.
I love that ham.
It was late in coming that December and I had begun to worry about it a bit. But the ham was there, sitting on the office porch. James Taylor was singing carols in my car. The town around me was celebrating the season with holiday spirit. All was well with my Christmas.
My husband’s office was closed that day for one of his many out-of-office holiday experiences. (The man knows how to enjoy the season.) I thought for a moment that I should stop and pick up the packages. But, as I said, I was late for my appointment. And, as I thought then, what could happen in the middle of the day . . . in Calvert City, Kentucky . . . home of 2500 good-hearted people . . . celebrating the birth of Jesus . . . and sending each other Christmas cards that say, “Hey, Yall, Peace on Earth Today”?
So, I drove past the office leaving my nephew’s books and my HoneyBaked Ham on the porch. An hour and a half later I drove back to get them.
They were gone!
I was stunned.
Gone? How could they be gone?! This is Calvert City! Who in our small-town, America, would steal a neighbor’s Christmas packages? And do we really have a citizen dumb enough to take them from the porch of the city attorney’s office?
I was astonished. I was confounded. I was furious.
Some low-down, no-account Christmas grinch had taken my ham!
My one consolation was that the thief had also taken two books about Christian theology. I hoped they would smote him with guilt and condemnation. If I could have gotten hold of him, I would have smote him with a few other things.
I wrote my anger on my Facebook page that night, “I love HoneyBaked Ham and they don’t come cheap! Oh, Christmas thief, I have but a few words for you. The others I will keep to myself. YOU HAD BETTER BE HOMELESS AND HUNGRY OR I WANT MY HAM BACK!”
At this point, you probably think I over-reacted. You may have concluded that I am actually a lunatic. Perhaps I did. More than likely, I am. But in one act of Christmas crime, the wholesome shine on my small town community was tarnished, Thanksgiving, 2015, was severely compromised, and some dumb, homeless guy had my ham.
Ironically, the dumb guy did not have to take it.
I would have given my ham to a hungry man if he had asked.
I would have given my ham to a hungry man if he had asked.
Stop right here.
Do you see Him?
At this point in the story, I ran smack dab into Jesus. And, I stumbled all over that last thought. Not because it isn’t true. It is. I would have absolutely given away the ham to a person who needed it . . . quickly and easily . . . with a cheerful heart and very little regret.
It seems that was actually the problem. If I could cheerfully give away my ham, why was I so angry because someone had taken it? Either way, my ham was gone and I would have a hand crammed up a turkey butt the following Thanksgiving.
As Jesus pointed out to me . . . (and by this time, I was completely off balance) . . . the dumb, homeless guy in my imagination had taken more than my ham. He had also taken the opportunity for me to give it to him . . . to do a kindness for a person less fortunate . . . to feel good about myself.
Do you see the problem? In both scenarios, my ham was gone and a hungry man had been fed. But, in the first, the ham was taken from me and I was furious. In the second, I gave away the ham and I felt good about myself. Evidently, even in an act of generosity, I am mostly about me.
Well, crap! (At this point, I sat down at His feet and let self-condemnation puddle around me.) I thought I was getting better. I’ve been walking with Jesus for a long time and I really thought I was getting better. You know what I mean . . . becoming more like Christ . . . keeping my eyes set on spiritual things above the physical plane . . . learning to die to my own desires.
Jesus sat down beside me and the puddle dried up. There is no condemnation in His presence.
We spent some time together and then we both got up and moved on.
He had reminded me.
My life with Jesus is no longer about getting better.
My ham and the books reappeared the following day. A few hours after depositing the boxes, the UPS man drove back by my husband’s office. When he noticed that the boxes were still on the porch, he picked them up again and re-delivered them the next day.
In my next Facebook post, I apologized to the fictional thief for my bad attitude.