Last Friday was annual wreath-making day. Excited, I wound my car from the “little house” down the mountain, through the woods, past Mitchell’s Farm and along Lake Zoar. Then over the Silver Bridge and left onto the country road that leads to my mother’s cottage.
The small, white house, which sits on an impossible mountainside along the lake, has been in our family for a long time. My nieces and nephew are the fifth generation to stand in the living room.
When my mother was a girl, her family lived in Queens. To get out of the concrete jungle in the hot summers, my mother’s family would migrate to three cottages on Lake Zoar in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. My great grandparents owned the first cottage. My grandparents owned the one next door. And my great Aunt Martha and Uncle Norman (who had an actual tattoo and rode a motorcycle… unheard of among polite society at that time) owned the third cottage. My parents bought this latter house circa 1973.
Now, years later with several additions and updates in place, my mother lives there and we find ourselves at the cottage for many holidays and other occasions – to include the traditional wreath making the day after Thanksgiving. My mom and I have come together on Thanksgiving Friday for 15 years to clip boxwood and holly, and create wreaths that are just beautiful. My mother even sold them at a church fundraiser last year.
What I love about my mother is not just the “mother” part. Of course she’s “Mom” and is amazing and has inspired me in so many ways. But I love who she is as a person – her faith, her undying belief in the good in people, her creativity, her devotion to family and, finally, her ability to be her own person without apology.
Example? We went out to clip the boxwood sprigs for this year’s wreaths. I had on my sweater, coat and boots. My mother? A wool vest and her bedroom slippers.
And I love that… that she is her own person with her frequent New York-accented response to scrutiny of, “Who should know?” which, roughly translated, means “Whose business is it?”
The further along I go in life, the more individuality is something I admire. This year, as we bought the “little house,” we were making a move that not everyone “gets.” I mean, really… not everyone gets this move, this downsize, this change. We get questions like, “Why are you doing this?” or the expectation that we’ll eventually come to our senses and build a glamorous farmhouse with a big porch – which somehow legitimizes our downsizing to 660 square feet with cows practically mooing in the front yard.
And who knows. We may build that farmhouse. But… we may not.
Either way, this change has been a new adventure and experience for us… with great stories to tell. Great times to savor.
And really… who should know?
PS — As a follow-on to last week’s venture in snowflake cookie making, I am attaching photos and directions for wreath making.
Directions for Wreath Making
Greenery wreaths like this one can be made from boxwood, holly, ivy or traditional Christmas tree branches like hemlock and long needle pine. Clip the branches to lengths of about 8-10″
Then you’ll need a wire frame (you can find these at a crafts store like Michael’s), oasis and string or twine to attach the oasis to the frame.
Cut the oasis into blocks that fit on the frame and wind the twine (in this case I’ve used floral tape) around the frame to secure the oasis.
Cut the pieces of boxwood, ivy, holly, etc. and insert into the oasis. As you fill in the spaces on the oasis, the wreath will look better and better. Longer branches made the wreath look more artsy whereas shorter pieces make the wreath look more tailored.
Once the wreath is filled in with greenery, turn it upside down outside on the ground/grass, and water it with a hose or with a pitcher of water. Let it sit for an hour or two so the greens can absorb the water. You’ll need to water it every two weeks or so. Sometimes the wreaths last even into January / February.
All best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!