If you think October is a bizarre time to harbor thoughts of Christmas, it's time to revise both your thinking and your spelling.

'Tis the season of the bazaar and, homonyms notwithstanding, there are several good reasons to be jolly.

First of all, bazaars are basically fun. The folks in the booths selling crafts, peach preserves and used books are usually doing it for a proverbial "good cause" and they're happy to have you there, so they're friendly. The local bazaar is often a big neighbourhood event and hence a good place to meet Nice People.

Furthermore: Bazaar food - whether it's take-out stuff, sit-down lunch or dinner or buffet - is mostly homemade, and often incredibly good. And who, besides has time to make mousaka these days?

Finally, bazaars make for gifts out-of-the ordinary, sometimes one-of-a-kind, often inexpensive. Many a parishioner or club member will save a year's worth of white elephants and unwanted books for the local Christmas bazaar. Or labor for six months on embroidered pillowcases, stuffed animals or pottery. A bazaar may also have special areas or booths where the kids can do their own shopping with minor damage to the allowance. Just one rule of the bargain-hunters: Show up early.

What follows is a sampling, neither comprehensive nor detailed, of holiday bazaars planned from now to about Thanksiving. Because the season is still rather young, some can't quite be classified as Christmas bazaars - but they're close enough.