I realize it is August, but humor me:
My mom has teased me over the years for being a ‘Christmas in July’ sort of person. She knows: mid-summer I am thinking about, buying or making Christmas gifts. If I am browsing in a shop and see the perfect gift for just that person: I pounce on it, then tuck it on a special shelf to wait until Christmas.
Once, in anticipation of living abroad with my family for a year (Florence, Italy), I bought and wrapped Christmas and birthday gifts for each person—to be opened the full year we were gone.
Until now I associated ‘Christmas in July’ with my—and no doubt countless others—inclination to anticipate Christmas as early as July. But I recently had another ‘July Christmas’ epiphany: nature’s ornaments.
I am a big fan of farm fresh food, buying direct from local farmers and scoring on bumper crops. As you probably know, I am increasingly determined to eat seasonally. This includes: canning my own tomatoes, drying apple chips and freezing hoards of berries. It means I try to ‘put up’ foods as they are fresh and available, then pull them out of my freezer and pantry for the remainder of the year.
It’s a learning curve. Last year I made way, way too much jam. My family members are not jam-cravers. I gave a lot away. This year I am freezing most of my berries for year-round smoothies [which my sons adore]. As I poured out tiny mesh baskets of berries onto cookie sheets—to freeze as individual berries before tucking them into bags—I thought to myself: all these berries makes if feel like Christmas in July.
Hoards of bejeweled berries dangle on bushes and trees, earth’s version of ornamental and edible decorum. Colorful abundant edibles—the thought makes me giddy. Little blue, red and purple orbs are like ornaments on summer’s Christmas tree.
Though in today’s world we can buy fruit and vegetables at the grocer year round, it wasn’t too long ago that winter meant: winter greens, stored squashes, piles of potatoes and root vegetables. Winter food didn’t include sun-warmed tomatoes or bright yellow peaches that dripped down your chin. Nature’s juicy and colorful summer fruit-filled trees and bushes were gifts that only came once a year, every year. Pushing to go with nature’s ebb and flow, my appreciation for summer’s bounty and timing has grown.
Christmas will be dried grapes or dried apricots, my frozen berries and preserves; there wouldn’t be bowls brimming with summer’s fresh berries or piles of every-colored peppers. The abundance of gifts—and colors—from nature mid-summer feels exactly like Christmas in July.
… and August is downright festive too!