Basket of (Mostly) Home Grown Christmas Gifts

My mother is not a hard person to give gifts to. She is gracious, appreciative, and undemanding. She is also 86 years old and doesn’t need any more “stuff.” So she is a terribly hard person to buy gifts for nowadays.

This year I decided to give her a gift of stuff that I had grown in the yard, canned during the summer, or that she could watch grow and bloom in the house. I found an amaryllis on sale in a color that she’s never grown before and added it to a big basket I found at a garage sale for $1.

I filled in around the edges with herbs I had dried and packaged in repurposed jam, jelly, and mustard jars from which I’d soaked and scrubbed the labels. These jars have interesting shapes and can be reused or returned to me for refilling! This was a good year for herbs with its abundant rain and warm spells of weather. I harvested and dried a lot of sage, parsley, dill, thyme, and oregano.

My mom enjoys eating hot breakfast cereal, so I got out my trusty little manual grain mill and ground her some farina from wheat I’d bought at our favorite bulk food store. (See my Nov. 24, Grinding Your Own Breakfast Cereal blog.) This cereal is great with some cinnamon added just before serving on a cold December morning.

I did a little bit of jelly making this year: cherry and wild black raspberry. I added a jar of each of those. I also made a couple batches of salsa, so I added a jar of that as well. (I would have canned a lot more tomato products if I could have gotten my hands on some more tomatoes! )

I also did a little drying this year. I included a couple of small jars of dried cherries (a neighbor generously supplied the fruit) and cherry tomatoes. I think those cherries are going to find their way into some hot breakfast cereal pretty soon!

Since my mom loves cats and letter writing, I added a box of Lang stationary packaged in a nice reusable box with a hinged lid. She can use up the stationary and have a practical but pretty storage container for paper clips!

I guess the key to giving the best gifts is thinking about what the recipient really enjoys and how the gift will fit into their life. (I don’t know what my recent request  for a rice cooker says about me!) Begonia

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