Making it and giving it.

Like everybody else, I've had a hard time moving on since Friday.  It's the least cheery Christmas I can remember - yet there are still trees to trim, Santas to impersonate, huge meals to prepare.

Meanwhile, the searching-for-gifts time is almost over, about to give way to the giving-of-gifts.  "Some of us" (meaning me) have trouble facing the crush of the crowds and the manufactured sentiment on display in the malls, especially right now.  "Some of us" (meaning me) were too disorganized to get all the presents ordered online and shipped on time.

Fortunately for "some of us," the best gifts are still to be had - because they're the gifts we make ourselves. Sure, it's too late for the blueberry preserves we could have made in August, or the sun-dried tomatoes we didn't get around to in August. But there are still plenty of things you can make and give with little more than what you find in your pantry--and plenty of books to help.

You could make quick pickles, or those pretty, layered "cookie in a jar" (or pancakes in a jar, etc.), or apple sauce, or kimchi (it doesn't even have to be finished when you give it! it can sit on a shelf for months!)

And if you like to bake (provided you can find the time for it), you're set for as long as you've got flour and butter (or their gluten-free and vegan counterparts) on hand.

And if, in the end, you're out of sugar and the stores are closed and you're too tired to face the stove once more, a card and a voucher ("2 dozen cookies, date to be determined!") will do...because after all, it's the thought that counts.

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