The people's voice of reason

Potpourri for December

Jingle bells are ringing, mistletoe is hanging, and Christmas time is in the air. In fact, I even wondered what happened to Thanksgiving? It is amazing to me how quickly 2019 has whizzed by, is this a time warp? The River Region area has a lot going on to make the holidays bright including the Shakespeare Theatre, the Zoo, and soon, the Christmas Tree lighting at the Capitol. I call it a magical time of the year with Nutcrackers, Santa Claus, gifts for young and old, manger scenes, and best of all the celebration of the Christ child's birthday.

Some of the gifts I will be sharing with family and friends were ingredients that were growing in my garden. Canning with the vegetables, herbs and fruit that I have grown last year has the finality of morphing into the ultimate and personal present. My tomatoes and bell peppers became tomato relish : the pears from the orchard became pear chutney, the gala apples were canned for future pies, the blueberries and figs became preserves, mint was used for mint jelly, Some ideas for other thoughtful gifts include gathering and drying bay leaves for small wreaths or cutting rosemary stems and tying red ribbons around them to add to the top of a jar of canned items, or gift sacks.


I am intrigued by the beauty of the Christmas Cactus as it is such an unusual plant. Actually it is from a small genus of cacti which originated from the coastal mountains of southern Brazil. There plants grow on trees or rocks in areas with high humidity. They also like the shade unlike their desert cousins. Scientifically named Schlumbergera Christmas Cactus make great holiday potted plants for the home. They are easy to propagate, have a long bloom time, plus extremely easy to care for. Other common names are Thanksgiving cactus, Easter cactus, and Holiday cactus. To propagate, break off a segment at the joint and place a quarter of the segment in slightly moist sandy soil. This segment has to be second from the tip. Place the cutting in a well-lit area, but staying away from direct sunlight. You will enhance blooming of the plant if exposed to more light, except direct sunlight which will burn the leaves. Temperatures should be 60 to 70 degrees, and to help with the humidity, place the pot in a tray filled with pebbles. After blooming force dormancy by cutting back on watering, placing it in a darkened area for 12 hours per day, and keeping the plant away from drafts. And this is all you need to know to get started.


Selecting a Fresh Cut Christmas Tree

Choosing and cutting your own Christmas tree is a wonderful outing to begin your Christmas season. Bring your family and friends to experience the fun and excitement of a working farm where you can find your perfect tree, and enjoy hay rides, wreaths, gift shops, farm animals, school tours, fresh air, and many other offerings.

The Southern Christmas Tree Association provides a list of choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms in Alabama at

Each farm offers a unique experience. Please follow the website links on the list to find an Alabama choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm near you. Don’t forget to check social media for any of these farms.


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