December 20th, 2010
I’m not participating in the Christmas rush this year. It took a knee injury to bring me to my senses. It’s much too painful to hobble around the store to do grocery shopping, much less shopping for Christmas gifts! I’m focusing on just what is absolutely necessary, and spending hours in traffic, at malls, looking for that special gift just doesn’t seem that important right now. Sure, I’ve put up a tree—two as a matter of fact. I went downtown (in my small town) to witness the lighting of the trees and ships, and enjoy the caroling. More importantly our family will gather for Christmas dinner. I will present each with a gift card, or a unique piece of jewelry or other treasure that I already have on hand. Most of us have too much and lots of stuff we really don’t need. I’m finding it rather easy to part with much of it, stuff that a few years ago I didn’t think I could get along without. I’ve given away a good bit to the needy this year, and not just worn out or cheap stuff. I feel lighter. Working on the rest….
Dear Cutting Loose,
Like you, our family gave up the Christmas rush this year as well! We decided that we all had everything we needed, and that the true value of Christmas was in the gathering of our family to enjoy time with each other and to extend the love of God to those less fortunate through donations and gifts. Perhaps one of the hidden blessings of this financial meltdown we’ve experienced these past few years is a realignment of values that had become more and more skewed as the degree of commercializing the Christmas season increased. May you and your family enjoy a wonderful time together!
In response to Wondering’s questions, I would store only dry foods like grains, pasta, beans, and powdered milk at the remote cabin, as freezing will not hurt them. (Freeze-dried foods, if you think about it, cannot possibly be hurt by freezing.) However, I would not store them IN the cabin where they can be found and stolen or vandalized. I am a big proponent of buried caches, using techniques to safeguard the contents from soil moisture or gnawing animals. Done carefully by piling the excavated dirt on a tarp, carrying leftover dirt away, and disguising the surface, nobody will be able to tell anything was buried there. Even if vandals, fire, or natural disaster destroys the cabin, your scattered survival caches will still be there.
I make my own stout cache containers from PVC well casings fitted with a reinforced plastic and neoprene expansion plug. Inside is a Mylar liner that can be sealed with a clothes iron. I toss in one or more opened hand-warmer packets before sealing the bag. These will suck the oxygen out of any trapped air inside, preventing deterioration by oxidation.
I mix any dry grains or beans I store with a small amount (one cup per 100 lbs.) of food-grade diatomaceous earth as an added precaution. This white, dusty material mined from ancient lake-bed deposits serves as a permanent guard against insect infestation, but is harmless to people, dogs, etc., and even has health benefits because it discourages intestinal roundworms in the same manner as insects. It has been used for generations in food storage. (Be sure to only use the food-grade; the stuff used for pool filters is heat-fused into dangerously sharp particles.)
Thank you for your helpful advice and sharing it with our readers. It’s sound and should be considered by anyone putting together stores of food. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Christmas!
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