Ripe Berries, Hope and Jam

The first time my mother in law came to visit us she brought “freezer jam” with her, strawberry freezer jam.  Mark was so excited and let me know it was one of his favorite things.  I’d never had freezer jam before and while I loved the taste, I was pretty sure it was probably complicated to make and held a high risk for failure…something I avoided at all costs back then.

Years went by, and holding to my commitment to not look stupid and to avoid failing, I never made freezer jam, or any other type of jam.

Then we moved to Michigan a few years ago and I found myself surrounded by mid-west canning, applesauce making, bread baking, garden growing and jam making friends.  They seemed to do all of these domestic miracles with relative ease, and I was caught by the traditions that went along with all of it.

During my years in Texas I came to love the traditions that marked life in San Antonio; they became part of the fabric of life for my family.    The ache of losing those traditions has at times been an invitation to shut down my heart.  It feels difficult to start new traditions, knowing that when I do I will have to feel the ache of what’s been lost and the hope for what can be again.  Hope can be stirred by something as simple as making jam.

Last summer I made a bold move: I decided to risk looking stupid and possibly failing, and I made freezer jam.

Much to my surprise the whole process was ridiculously simple, and as long as you stir the sugar and fruit long enough there isn’t much of a risk for failure.  I was surprised by how much sugar it took and how well it all turned out.  My kids thought I was some sort of amazing domestic goddess.

This year I watched and waited for the day the berries would go on sale at our grocery store “10 for 10”.  The day arrived, and I bought three flats of ripe blackberries and 3 flats of ripe red raspberries.


My girls knew what the flats of berries meant, and on jam day the youngest one was quick to put on her apron and pull up a stool to help.  The tradition has taken root.

It’s August, and it’s not too late to make your own freezer jam, start a new tradition and become a goddess in your house.

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Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12).  Married for 26 years, she is mother to five kids.  After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.  Founder of Seized by Hope Ministries, she writes here.