After justifying behaviors, after reconciling little differences, after earnest efforts to work things out, you just get to a certain point where the only mature solution is...divorce.
Can I divorce my entire family?
They don't know anything about it and really, if I were to go through with the whole thing without even telling them, they won't even notice.
You see, in the last few years, by no conscious effort of my own, I have become virtually invisible in my family, a gradual process that initiated a few years ago when my father declared that “there is no hope for" me. Dad made the decree after the first of my two younger siblings had the first baby/child/grandchild of our family and he meant, of course, that there was no hope of marriage for me. I was too overripe to be plucked by a prince from the family tree, instead destined to plummet a dried, wrinkled sweatpants-clad fruit to the ground and rot through her thirties and beyond with eleven cats to which she is allergic and an internet connection.
It's no one's fault, really. Though if I had to, I'd be inclined to blame my parents. Even with all the cruel and unusual, but so very real, traditions of an Immigrant-American family, there was one that my parents made the mistake of never instituting: the Birth Order Marriage rule (BOM).
BOM states that "children will be married in the order in which they are conceived."
Had BOM been rule in The Delicious family, then as the first-born, I'd have to be first-married, even if my two younger sisters were in 10 year long relationships and were bursting at the seams of the wedding gowns that they've been designing in their imaginations since they were toddlers.
In an extreme singles situation like, oh, I don't know, mine several years ago, my family could drop the BOM on me, directly pressuring me to expedite for the sake of my younger sisters.
Obviously, that didn't happen. My sisters married years ago and you know what state I'm currently in.
Once my married younger sisters began reproduction — Dad actually uses words like "reproduction," but that's not surprising since he relates everything to either the military or the animal kingdom — there really was nothing left for my parents to use as leverage. Mine was a lost cause that faded into the background, and when my nieces and nephews, rather my parents' omgrandchildren, screamed onto the scene, my family didn't just give up hope for my getting married; they just sort of forgot about me entirely.
I am bitter about a lot of things, but all of that in the previous five paragraphs, oddly enough, was not the grounds for divorcing my family. They are all part of the backdrop for one brief, tragic scene within the comedy that was the Delicious Christmas Holiday two years ago that finally put me over the edge.
As I usually do right about the time that I did, I kicked off the usual Delicious Holiday Dinner deliberations by calling Mom. Or so I thought I was "kicking it off." Little did I know that the rest of my family had failed to include me in dinner planning that had taken place several days before. It wasn't a big deal, as I have said, to be forgotten in that way. It was, however, a big deal when Mom told me what the plan was.
Sister's house (as usual). Early evening (no surprise). No cooking whatsoever because she had already bought an entire pre-cooked, all you can heat-n-eat, Holiday Ham dinner out of a box.
I was speechless.
On the outside.
On the inside, however, I was going through every stage of post traumatic stress and shock on silent, turbo speed while my Mom continued to explain with words like "so much easier," "no clean up," and, the one that haunts me even two years later...
We were going to microwave our holiday ham dinner for 12 people.
The dead silence on my end of the line must have been a hint to Mom that something was Not. O. K.
"But don't worry Sarah. We'll actually cook something!" They say people get divorced over toothpaste. They should also say families could get divorced over Green Bean Casserole.
At that point, it was so ridiculous I didn't know if Ashton Kutcher was going to come crashing through my door with my Mom laughing, if I should laugh or cry, if I was really biologically related to these people who share my same last name. Even if I were adopted, after thirty-*cough*something*cough* years, don't these people know me?
It wasn't a joke.
On Christmas Day, we really did eat a fully cooked meal that we heated, for the most part, in the microwave oven.
Strangely enough, with four little huggy, kissy nieces and nephews crawling all over me, my tiny dog terrorizing Mom and my sisters in the kitchen, and indirectly listening to my Dad giving the lectures I've heard a hundred times before to his new victims students, my brothers-in-law, I didn't even notice that the ham, potato salad, creamed corn, and other assorted side dishes actually came in three bags, not a box.
And two years later, during the cleanup after almost exactly the same Delicious Family Holiday Ham Dinner with all the Korean fixin's, my Dad pointed to a tightly twist-tied crumpled plastic bag shoved into a corner on the kitchen countertop and asked if it was trash.
"No," my Mom replied. "That's the bone for Sarah. So she can make soup for her blog."
I've never felt so seen in my life.
If you want to go H.A.M. and um, start with a ham, try this Bourbon Maple Ham recipe, then:
- save the "leftover" center ham bone as well as a few slices of the ham for this Split Pea Soup recipe below
- make its cousin, Lentil Soup
- you can also use the ham bone to make a basic ham stock to freeze
Split Pea Soup Recipe
- 1 small ham hock or ham bone
- 2 cups green split peas rinsed and picked over
- 8 cups cold water
- 1 large carrot diced
- 1 large celery rib diced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced (I used 4!)
- 1 bouquet garni 3-4 sprigs parley, ⅓ to ½ bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 leek white white part only, 2 cloves
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Combine in a soup pot ham bone, 2 cups green split peas, and cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
- Stir in diced carrots, diced celery, diced onions, minced garlic, and bouquet garni. Simmer until the ham bone (or ham hock) and peas are tender, about 1 hour more.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove from heat and remove the ham bone (or ham hock). Discard the bone, skin, and fat; dice the meat. Return it to the soup. For a thicker soup, simmer to the desired consistency. Stir to blend before serving.
- Garnish with soup croutons. (I also garnished with shredded ham and chopped fresh parsley.)