Yesterday, we were very busy elves and Anne began working on our Christmas cards. I had been handling this task of late, but this year she has taken a more active role. She wrote our Christmas letter. I figured that it needed a different voice than mine. She then spent most of the day compiling our list of recipients. For this she used Google docs. I had been using a different system.

Every year, we hang the cards that we receive on decorative strands from the hearth. At the end of the season those cards go into a box, waiting for next year. I then used this box of past year’s cards to compile the new year’s list. She must have spent the better part of the day pawing through that box, rereading old cards and letters. Occasionally, she would read one aloud to me. I think that the best of these was one from her Uncle Louie, now passed. It must have been from almost ten years ago. Like I said, she spent all day doing this. In it Louis said that for his birthday that year, his ninetieth, he got a pacemaker. While his “younger, fitter” brother Harry, “the rock of the family”, only got a hangnail. They shared the same birthday, six years apart.

Meanwhile, I busied myself in the kitchen. After last Christmas, we ended up with an extra bag of cranberries in the freezer. Where it has sat all year, except to make a trip to the cabin and back. Why? I don’t know. Accompanying it on that cabin run was a Tupperware of cranberry sauce. For Thanksgiving, we put both items down. We had the sauce, which was no worse for wear, but the bag of berries lingered. Not wanting to see such a precious heirloom go to waste, I consulted the New York Times recipe section.

I have been digitally subscribing to the Times for years now. Ever since a certain someone dubbed it failing and I see it as a bargain, especially, on a Sunday morning, but it has always irked me that they want a second subscription to access their recipes. Why of all of the many sections of this paper should food be so special? Anne has been getting from them a regular, weekly emailed recipe of the week. Many of which I have made and we have enjoyed. I guess that it was over Thanksgiving that Anne just up and subscribed to their recipes section and I’m glad that she did. I made their Cranberry Lemon Bars that featured twin tartness and almost all of our sugar. As a shortcut, I used a sheet of leftover Pepperidge Farm dough for the crust, which might have been a mistake. We could never quite get it to fit tightly enough in the pan, so that when the top, rather runny layer of lemon was added, it ran all over everything. It still tasted fine, but it didn’t look like their photo.

In place of such a picture, I offer you the above photo of persimmons, still on the tree. They are supposed to be even tarter than cranberries or lemons. According to folklore, splitting open a persimmon seed will reveal the shape of a fork, spoon or knife on the seed’s interior. The image of a spoon indicates that the upcoming winter will feature an abundance of heavy, wet snow; a fork predicts light and powdery snow, and a knife forecasts a winter with bitter, icy winds.

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