On Black Friday, while some of my dear ones are out there getting amazing bargains, making their way through traffic and crowds, I’m going nowhere. I’m perfectly content at home digging in the Christmas closet and festooning the house for the holidays. It's a kind of chaos, in its own way, only confined to our four walls.
Our nine-foot tree takes the longest to dress -- not my favorite to deck out. What I like best is putting up wreaths. Lots of them. Show me a door or even a doorknob on a cabinet, and I’ll show you a wreath to adorn it.
I became interested in wreaths when grapevine became the material of choice in the late 1970s. Grapevine wreaths were ideal because not only did I love country decorating (now we have more sophisticated terms for it: farmhouse, cottage, or rural rustic), I also required cheap adornments. With an early-marriage budget and both of us working on college degrees, money was tight. Ah, but my parents had a farm with woods and fence rows. I could gather as many free grapevines as my heart desired.
When we moved to a Fountain County farmhouse, I could find the vines along any number of fences on country roads. I made up a bunch of plain wreaths and on a whim, waltzed into the Veedersburg florist unannounced and asked if she wanted to buy some. She did! My entire stock, in fact. A dozen in all.
Bolstered by entrepreneurial success, I got up the nerve to go big and ask The Apple House owner in Terre Haute if he was interested. He told me if I could make 100, he would buy them. He only bought in bulk. I thought it over and decided that while I could probably find materials for 10 or 15, (I'd alread moved a dozen!) 100 might be pushing it hard. So I didn’t take the job.
But I’ve never stopped loving the humble, and not-so-humble, wreath – grapevine or otherwise.
This holiday season, my first-ever square wreath, made of realistic-looking magnolia leaves, graces our front door. I added a red cloth bow. I wanted something different from the round evergreen wreaths with red bows I put on the outdoor windows every year.
When the holidays are over, I may remove the bow and use the wreath as a substitute for art in our bedroom. Or leave it up all winter on the door. It was affordable, unlike some high-end versions I have seen, if you can even find them. Too cool to store away.
Over the kitchen sink I have another new wreath this year. It was made by Kelly Finch of Liberty and contains small oranges with greenery and real rose-hips add a 3-D effect. Alongside the wreath are two red lanterns with the battery-powered “candles” inside. I found the lanterns in Kroger with the store’s holiday merchandise.
On the kitchen table, a white-berry wreath I’ve had for years contains one of three glass-encased wire-brush Christmas trees and the other two flank it. I found those from Donna Finch at the Union County Extension Homemakers Bazaar.
There’s a red berry wreath on the closet door, a deer wreath from Nancy Huntington, made by her friend, on the china closet door (I added the two feathers for even more of a rustic look), and there’s another Kelly wreath in service as a candle ring in the family room.
If it holds still, I’ll put a ring on it.
What is your favorite holiday decorating task?