Jars? Yes, jars. Ball, Kerr, jelly, Mason, mayonaise, honey, even baby food. Jars.   Why should you have jars? Well, for everything. Today I saw a segment on Martha Stewart’s blog about packing your next picnic in jars. She had salad, 7-layer dip, dessert and beverages all in individual jars – less fuss, easier prep and pack, easier cleanup.  Another fan and I agreed that labeling the jars for each individual is helpful too; its great for marking leftovers or if you need to make a dietary note for someone (Jennifer – no onions). check out her segment at http://www.themarthablog.com/

As I watched this I realized that jars make so many things easier.  I remember my grandfather had a shelf over the workbench filled with jars containing nails, screws, even his drillbits.


He said it kept everything in plain sight so he could see what he had at any given time. Grandma often sent home leftover soup or gumbo in Ball jars, though always with a warning not to lose the lids. Now I have old baby-food jars that hold safety pins, tacks, and paperclips. I have Mason jars filled with bath salts and assorted cutesy soaps, even antique buttons. My son has Ball jars filled with marbles and spare change. Somewhere in a box is an old honey jar filled with wheat pennies.

Jars are funny things, coming in all sizes, sometimes even in color. Canning jars are a valuable commidity – they are meant to be filled, cleaned, and refilled until some poor sap manages to break one. Then that unlucky soul gets a lecture from the owner for wasting a perfectly good jar. Otherwise, these bad boys can last for generations and be handed down like inheritance. Drinking iced tea from a Mason jar is a Southern staple (so are beer, wine and moonshine depending on where you live). When you empty a regular food jar, be it jelly, mayo or baby food, you can’t just toss it away. The clear smooth glass and tight fitting lid simply beg for a second chance at life.  Jelly companies are notorious for making their jars pretty or even designing them for a new life as a drinking glass.  Why? Because jars are awesome! 

Well, there is that, and there is also a certain practical mentality inherited over generations that tells us to preserve our world in these particular containers. Our grandparents and great-grandparents came out of the original age of reduce/reuse/recycle, and jars were at the top of the list.  My grandmother made jellies and preserved veggies in them, my grandfather sorted hardware in them, my aunt stored her sewing threads in them, and I loved getting the lidless ones to play with. Jars caught, collected, and carried so much in my childhood – pennies, strange bugs, lemonade, minnows, buttons, art supplies, and on summer nights, fireflies.

Today Martha Stewart presented viewers with a clever way of packing their summer picnic, but she also reminded me that jars are invaluable tools. They sort, carry, and neaten so many different items in the home. They’re pretty darn good for holding memories too.