Christmas H.A.M - Melbourne Arts Club Christmas Series Part 1 Words and Photos - J Forsyth

While burning down the Eastern Freeway listening to the sultry sounds of JP on 3RRR, old mate from The Smith Family was giving us the low-down on their Christmas appeal and why it is so important. I started to cry as I drove at 100km thinking about how terrible it is that poor people can't afford ham. Yes, I am being serious.

For me, my fond Christmas memories are intertwined with ham. Christmas means eating amazing off the bone ham, wrapped in a wet pillowcase to keep it moist and fresh. It is true that as a ham-a-holic, most days of my week involve ham, but Christmas ham is so different. At my parent’s house as a child, I remember chipboard floors, my uncles in their early 20s with flat top and wearing acid wash, sweltering heat and ham. Fat slabs of porky pork pork; eat it cold, eat it hot, just fucking eat it.


My memories shaped my views of Christmas and my adult love for ham. Christmas is still held at mum's each year, but these days the floor is polished boards and my uncles are in their forties and don't like to be reminded of their flat tops and perms, but there is always ham. Last year, it was an organic locally sourced ham and this year will be no different. It is tradition and it is heart warming and it makes me feel happy in my special place.

This is not actually a love letter to ham; what I am getting at is that you should donate some money so people can create their own memories for their children and flat top clad brothers, possibly with the help of a lovely leg of ham. And if you can't afford to donate, try to make socially-minded choices when purchasing stuff this year (which I am sure you already try to do).

Here are some tips for raising money, or ways to elicit money from your friends for Christmas donations: 

  • Last year when hosting my annual secret Santa Christmas party, in the words of Kanye West, “Get em high” then take a jar around and ask for donations. It worked a bloody treat. I raised about $150, and after I recovered from my hangover, I legged it to Kmart where I bought toys, scooters, skateboards and bikes for to go under the Wishing Tree.

One friend remarked after seeing my Instagram that she thought I would just pocket the cash - I didn't! I did, however, keep the tampon that someone donated but returned another’s house key. Now, I am not particularly advocating that you buy your gifts from large companies - I will leave gift ideas to part II of our Christmas series from Karla O'Connor.

  • Offer to pick up the slab for your craft beer-loving friends. Then buy something much cheaper (Storm Lager from Aldi perhaps, and tell them it’s a new import) and then donate the change.
  • Ask your mother if she needs you to go to the shops for her, tell her a pineapple should cover it, steal what you need from your housemates’ shelf and donate the change.
  • When you are invited to Christmas parties this year, take a green bag and when no one is looking, take all the weird canned stuff know one will miss and donate it

Ok, so there are a lot of ethical issues with what I am proposing, so please don't get all lefty preachy on my arse!


Realistically though, check out The Smith Family and how they help get presents to kids.

Kids love drawing and painting, so get them an art set, buy a book from your local bookstore, or donate something that you no longer need.

Buy local - check out shops like Hams and Bacon on Nicholson Street for local produce and treat yourself this Christmas.

Stay tuned for a list of local artists, galleries and makers who we think are pretty excellent.

Ham Ham Ham!