Putting up with December

5 pint jars of homemade cranberry applesauce on a windowsill

I made 5 pints of cranberry applesauce yesterday, with a partially full additional jar to go directly into my belly fridge. I bought a 20 pound box of McIntosh apples from a farm on the outskirts of town, for the express purpose of making some applesauce, and my intentions were to make a few kinds – cranberry (unsweetened), strawberry (also unsweetened), plain apple-y applesauce (maybe sweetened), and possibly blueberry, if there are any blueberries left in the freezer (sweetened with also local maple syrup).

Seems like, perhaps, making applesauce in the throes of Christmas prep isn’t the wisest use of my time – there must be eleventy thousand other things I could/should be doing, right?? But no. The best use of my time right now is applesauce.

So, I made 5 jars of cranberry applesauce yesterday. If it were tomato season, I’d be freaking out about the yield. *Only* 5 jars? Why bother? If you’re going to go to the trouble, you should make at least 2 (and as many as 7?) bushels. And make yourself feel overwhelmed and stressed out the whole time. Because that’s part of the fun of it. *sigh*.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I look downstairs at the tomato situation and I regret not doing more tomatoes (or sauce). But applesauce is different. It’s very satisfying to see 5 jars cooling on my windowsill.

There is a time for major efforts to preserve every tomato in Cambridge. It feels good to reach for a litre jar of tomatoes in the middle of winter knowing they were perfectly acidic and sweet when I shoved them into the jar. It brings me long term happiness and a little spark of joy every time I use a jar. That makes the major, stressful effort worth it.

There is also a time for soul-satisfying small efforts to make 5 jars of something. It will also make me happy when I’m able to pull a jar of applesauce to make a cake in April, or to just enjoy the puckery tartness right out of the jar, yaknow, later this afternoon.

This Advent, may the short term joys not be eclipsed by the (faulty) assumption that only big gestures matter.

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