Most of us are in the throes of leafing through catalogs or visiting stores for just the right Christmas presents for family and friends, wrapping, baking, writing out Christmas cards and planning for parties.

This season also means making detailed lists for grocery shopping, or scouring my pantry in search of just the right ingredients.

But this year, in addition to the non-stop Christmas music and commercials, and the piles of gift catalogs filling my mailbox, two other additions are taking over – almost non-stop political ads for presidential candidates, and another season infringement, the early arrival of seed catalogs.

The official Christmas season has arrived, only to be almost overtaken by these two interlopers. Seed catalogs are supposed to arrive in January, when we’re three-feet deep in snow, to give us hope for the spring.

They are welcome arrivals at that time because we can sit back in front of the fire, dreaming of the fabulous vegetables and flowers we hope to grow throughout the summer. So, for me, these catalogs are relegated to a deep basket, out of the way, to be taken out after all the celebrating is done for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

As for presidential candidates, I’m doing my best to tune them out until I have the time and inclination to again listen and try to make an intelligent choice.

For Christmas is the time I go out of my way to visit my canned goods pantry and jelly cabinet to find the jelly or pickle that I know each family member, and some friends, prefer. When I start the preserving season in mid-summer, I know who likes what and I plan accordingly.

Raspberry jam for a nephew, blueberry jam for a sister-in-law, apple jelly for my brother, elderberry jelly for a sister living out of state, and grape for yet another sister living in Florida, and anything made from rhubarb for a cousin. That Florida sister is also a huge fan of sour mustard pickles. She, along with several other relatives and friends, always get at least one jar around Christmastime. Shipping several jars of these puckery pickles costs more than the rest of her presents, but she enjoys them right down to the last drop of brine. When my grandmother was still with us, a jar of sweet cucumber pickles was always among my gifts to her.

And of course, everyone in the family must have at least a dozen or so of Mom’s molasses cookies.

They were an absolute must when I was growing up. We often helped my mother decorate them, and Santa always received a couple of star-shaped, frosted cookies with a glass of milk. And for some strange reason, we never figured out that the gingerbread cookie poking out of our stockings on Christmas morning was from our mother, rather than from Santa.

Now, it’s my turn to make sure everyone receives these cookies. Over the years, I’ve also introduced them to many friends and other relatives, as well.

Christmas for me is a little like yet another end of the growing season. But now, at Christmas, instead of bringing the fruits of my garden labor to the local agricultural fair, I package them up in fancy ribbons, labels and fabric and give my canned goods as gifts.

So, for the next few weeks, I will block out the political ads, and tuck away the seed catalogs, and enjoy, once more, the season, the memories, the now.


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