If you’ve never had a persimmon, they look a bit like squashed, orange tomatoes.

You can get them at Harris Teeter at specific times of the year for a pretty penny each, although you may have to pick through to find one that’s not bruised and beaten and mushy. They taste a bit like pears, but sweeter, and they’re dense instead of grainy.

The best persimmons can be found mid-November. To me, they’re hallmarks of the upcoming Hallmark season just past Thanksgiving.

My family and I always put up our Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We’ve gotten real trees the past few years, but went with a fake tree this year that has enough balsam-scented-things stuck in the branches that it smells more like a Christmas tree than the real ones.

We listen to my dad’s vinyl Christmas albums — classics like Vince Guaraldi Trio, The Carpenters, John Denver and, of course, Sesame Street Christmas — and drink eggnog and fuss about the lights on the tree not working.

Miraculously, when we plugged in our pre-lit tree this year, the one that we’ve had in our attic for about five years, THEY ALL LIT UP.

On Christmas Eve we try (and usually fail) to make fondue, and on Christmas Day we cook a prime rib to last until the new year, when we’ll have cabbage (for money), sweet potatoes (for love), ham (for health) and black eyed peas (for luck).


Food, if it’s not obvious by now, plays a big part in my family’s time together. Of course there are meals of sustenance, but when we can, we try to make more of an effort, to show “I wanted to make something good for you, but this is also something for us to be together and enjoy together.”

Food is a love language all its own, combining acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, even small gifts. In my family, we make up for the physical touch through plentiful hugs.

Now, it’s time for me to admit a secret: I beat the persimmons to the punch this year. I did the one thing I thought I would never do: I started listening to Christmas music before Halloween. I know, I know, but I think we can all agree time has been something of an illusion this year, and I think by now everyone, no matter how impacted, is ready and looking for a little extra joy.

I’ve been lucky. I still live with my parents, who are in relatively good health, and work at a place where I can stay in my own office. But I’m still tired, worn out and worn through by the state of and suffering in the world. It helps that I have my parents, and I’m thankful to have them when I know others have been cut off from their loved ones.

To those people, I offer love through newsprint, however much comfort that is — and I remind you all that while your loved ones may be out of sight more than is usual or wanted, they are still there and they still love you. Hold the ones you can close, as often as you can.

And if possible, share a meal together; virtual meetings aren’t as good as real ones, but they’re a raincheck for when we can have real ones again. Traditions can be adapted; love will stay as it always is, and always does.

And when the time is right, maybe you’ll have the chance to share a persimmon.