15 December, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

By Havaca Ganguly

It is mid-December and the ground has yet to really freeze, though the garden is bare. I am ready for the garden to be bare.  On a warm afternoon last week, I dug out all the okra roots.  I pulled all the lima bean vines from the trellis they were so romantically wrapped around.  I tore out tomato bushes that still carried a few nuclear-colored, sagging tomatoes that had never reached their prime before freezing in the night time.

Under all of those plants, I found a few onion-starts that I must have planted at some point. They were bruised and bullied, but it became my last garden thrill of the year. We used them all at once on the day that they were harvested.  Roasted and tossed in a noodle stir fry. The season is now officially over and we are able to slumber from garden chores for a few months. 

Instead, we busy our hands in the kitchen, making Christmas cookies and roasting nuts to package and gift to neighbors. We huddle under a reading lamp and write letters to our loved ones.  Then, tuck them inside of envelopes and send them to far-flung places like Missouri, Switzerland, Mexico and India.  This year we add a bit of tenderness to our words.  We hug those people in our minds as we send words from our hearts.  This is a grey year.  This is a year of remembering those we love, and truly wishing them the best, wishing them good health, and cherishing memories with them. 

We pick up different needles and we make all kinds of crafts that we hope to gift this year, instead of going shopping and picking out things. We crave so much the closeness to those we love who live in distant places.  We crave so much the idea of celebration. When we sit to pass time together as a family, it means so much that everything tastes a little brighter.  We do our best to make all of these times special and in our hearts imagine our extended family is safe and cozy somewhere.