Sow There! How to shop early for Christmas 11-26-15

In a small house all you need is a small tree. In this case, a pepper tree will do. Heather Hacking-Enterprise-Record

Gotta love those forward-thinkers at the bigger-box stores. Like it or not, we can peruse Halloween costumes in August and buy Christmas wrap by the second week in September.

I think the grand plan is that we buy things in the middle of the summer and hide them from children. These gifts are so well hidden, the parents forget and buy more gifts in October and November. By the time the holiday comes around, people have too many gifts.

For those extra gifts, many charities have barrels around town and you can make other children happy with those things you bought in August. We’ve put together an online map with gift drop-off locations. Check “share the season”:

After years of resistance, those mass merchandisers have finally worked their way into my brain. Not only did I start holiday shopping early, I think I’m done. Thanks to the early reminders, I started buying holiday gifts when I was still wearing shorts and Croc sandals.

I thought ahead and made purchases on the Sierra Oro Farm Trail, at the downtown Chico Harvest Sidewalk Sale, and during my regular trips to the Chico farmers market. I’ll make one more dash for perishable gifts, but other than that I think I’m done.

Close friends will nod knowingly when I say I hate, hate, hate mainstream shopping. I lack patience, dislike overwhelming smells and pay very little attention to fashion. Sometimes I’ll have a panic attack while circling around the mall and looking for a parking place. It’s no fun to shop with me because I’ll growl if I see obstacles ahead, such as double-wide baby strollers.

I realize this makes me a poor consumer unit.

We’re Americans. Half the economy is tied to nonessential purchases. By the time we can spell the alphabet we also know how to ask Mom for something made by Mattel for children age 4-6.

The best way to convince me to shop is to throw a big can’t-miss community event (see examples above).

Chico’s Christmas preview really has it right. This isn’t shopping, its a big street party with shopping slipped in on the side. Christmas preview has bowls of chocolate, a tower of cupcakes, music on most street corners and ballerinas dancing in the windows. Somehow I don’t even mind when the double-wide strollers stop in the middle of the sidewalk.


With most of my presents ready to wrap, the rest of the holiday preparations are falling into place. As luck would have it, I never took down the white Christmas lights down from the living room.

Also, we had a cold snap a few weeks ago. Our jalapeno plant had grown fabulously large this summer in a black fabric pot. When it got really cold, I dragged the plant into the living room. The somewhat leaky fabric pot was placed inside a better-looking plastic pot. The pepper bush already has dozens of red jalapenos hanging from the branches, which are even better than actual ornaments. It took just a minute to unravel some of the white lights from the door frame and drape the string of lights around the pepper plant. The pepper plant was growing inside a tall metal tomato cage. That cage is great for hanging ornaments.

Many regulars at the Saturday farmers market remember Mike Morgenroth, who sold tomato seeds in yellow envelopes. Before he died, he taught me that several plants we grow in summer will survive the winter if brought indoors. Hot peppers, eggplant, basil and tomatoes are actually perennials, he said. In Chico we think they’re annuals because they die when it gets cold.

I know basil will grow indoors, and now it’s time for the hot pepper Christmas tree.

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