When my daughter was a tiny tot, she had trouble pronouncing consonants. If she wanted to say, “family,” she would say, “hamly.” This would make my husband think of a ham sandwich, and he would announce: “We’re all in a ham sandwich!” The connection was a stretch, but it became a familiar line around the house.
This summer, with our kids now teenagers, we went on a family hike through the woods and analyzed the silly saying. If our family is a ham sandwich, than I would be the bread, holding us together—as in making dinner every night and insisting everyone come to the table to eat it. I’m also a pretty good breadwinner, advancing the analogy. Daughter would be the ham since she shines on stage and the camera loves her. Her brother would be the condiments because he is truly the salt of the earth and makes everything better with his presence. Dad would be the big cheese, which needs no further explanation.
What’s most interesting here is that the ham sandwich is still intact. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this month. We are happy about this milestone, but not proud. The sandwich has gotten pretty messy sometimes. We’ve been juveniles for much of the marriage and feel like we’re just beginning to grow up.
Today is my daughter’s 17th birthday. Over a Dutch Baby Pancake, my husband said another silly thing he has repeated since she was two: “You’re big and you’re little!” It’s true. She is taller than I am and has a firm grasp on who she is. With Calculus under her belt and four AP classes this year, her knowledge is impressive. But she is still young at heart and playful (may it always be so). And, sadly, she has countless challenges and trials yet to come. But this can be said of all of us. We’re big…we’re little…and we’re doing our best to hold our ham sandwiches together.