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Oranges in Christmas Stockings

By Karina | December 23, 2009

holidaychristmasorange.jpgHey, do y’all remember the old tradition of getting an orange in the toe of your Christmas stocking? Now, I don’t want to date myself, and maybe I’m old fashioned (or my parents are?) but when I was a kid we would always get an orange – but more likely a tangerine – in the toe of our Christmas stocking. I thought of this yesterday as I was driving to work and I heard a story on NPR about a blight that is striking Florida’s orange groves.

I looked up the tradition, and it may be a symbol of the golden balls that St. Nick used to toss children. Or it could be because in the middle of winter fresh fruit was a delicacy for most people until relatively recently and what travels better than an orange, wrapped in its own packaging? Plus there wasn’t much money to spend on the kinds of toyful abundence that is now the status quo. And this makes me think about the smoked salmon my grandfather would send us every year for Christmas from Seattle (I wrote the whole story out here) and how much more abundent our food system is now, and how many more fancy foods we can afford out here in America. And this abundance is reflected in nearly everything we give and receive – and let’s face it, we talk about gifting a LOT here at Tiny Choices – from holidaze to regifting to the gift of time.

But back to the oranges! As I drove to work, I thought through the orange blight – let’s face it, there’s lots of monocultures out there, and inevitably they are affected by some kind of horrible blight that wreaked havoc on an area or community – most notably the Irish Potato Famine. I have been playing out the most awful scenario, being that the blight goes unstopped and oranges become rare again, once more a special treat food. Would they once again be a special treat for Christmas stockings?

Between the orange blight and the other stories on NPR lately (to summarize: the government says the depression is over, the American people say seeing is believing), and as we butt heads up against the most prolific of gift giving holidays in the good old US of A, I’m trying to keep two things in mind. First, how remarkably rich I am, and how fortunate I am to have the ability to share my wealth with others. And second, that biodiversity should be promoted in all things and that I need to keep my life steered firmly away from the monoculture, and towards the varied.

Any Big Picture thoughts you’re holding with you as we blast into the holidays?

[[Photo from flickr user morberg via creative commons license: http://www.flickr.com/photos/morberg/ / CC BY-SA 2.0]]

Topics: Food, General, Home | 4 Comments »

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Comment by andrea
2009-12-23 12:53:17

yes, my sister and I always received oranges and apples in our stockings. At the time, I thought Santa/my parents just wanted to balance out the handfuls of chocolate that were also in the stockings — it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that fruit in stockings was a long-lived tradition.

Comment by Condo Blues
2009-12-23 17:40:54

Oranges were part of my Christmas tradition as a kid but not in our Christmas stocking. We had a relative who lived in Florida and would send us a box of handpicked oranges as our family Christmas gift. That was before the laws changed and discontinued u-pick orange groves, due to a disease that spread among the groves.

Comment by Deb
2009-12-23 19:58:58

We didn”t do stockings but there was always a bowl of tangerines at Christmas. Today, just a whiff of tangeringe takes me back to those childhood days.

Comment by Pipp
2009-12-27 07:03:49

Actually the most recent threat to North America’s food supply was in the 1970s with a corn fungus. It was by luck only that the corn crop was not lost for a number of years. Just as the fungus was hitting the most heavily planted areas the weather got drier. The result of this would have been a dramatic increase in meat prices as well as other commotities in the US as corn is the main feed for many of the animals. For a number of years after there was a danger of a repeat as it takes a number of years for the seed companies to grow enough resistant seed so that every farmer is planting resistant seed. While the potato blight in Ireland is the example of the worst case we are always on the edge of this since the ‘green revolution’. Just a few years ago it was Bananas.


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