In the years that we’ve lived together, Dan and I have always kept holiday decorations to a minimum. Mostly this is for practical reasons: we’ve always spent Christmas either with one of our families, or abroad, and it has seemed like a waste to put up decorations that we wouldn’t even be there to enjoy. The question “to have a tree or not have a tree” simply hasn’t come up for us so far.
But yesterday, the inspiration seized me to make holiday wreaths. I was trying to think of something to give to our neighbor, a superwoman in her seventies who has been the dream neighbor – feeding our chickens when we’re away, lending us her lawnmower, leaving bottles of home-brewed kombucha on our doorstep. We want to thank her but she (in her own words) doesn’t need anything. So I thought of making her a holiday wreath, not because she needs one but as a token of our appreciation, and because it is something I can make myself out of natural materials. The problem was: how to source the materials here in the city? I didn’t want to go tearing branches off of bushes and trees in Portland’s public parks.
Nature itself provided a serendipitous solution. We had a big storm the night before last – gusts of wind strong enough to knock over recycling bins on the curb. Yesterday, walking to work, I noticed tree branches, big and small, lying on the ground, torn off by the storm. I didn’t have to walk far to gather enough fir and cedar branches and other small greens to make two wreaths, one for us and one for our neighbor.
And this morning, we woke up to first snow falling outside. The fresh whiteness, the fragrance of the branches filling our house, and the knowledge that we will be traveling tomorrow to see our loved ones finally brought home to me that the season of celebration and warmth and stillness is upon us.