That old friend Nostalgia, popping up suddenly as he so often does this time of year, leaned his elbow on my shoulder, playfully pouted and whispered in my ear. I had to have a grapevine wreath, and I told my husband just that.
We were on a mission to construct our first, very own Advent wreath, and as Advent begins tomorrow, perhaps we were a little behind in the planning. Fake wreaths, too, are expensive. The more artificial but real-looking fruit and flowers are added, the higher the price tag. Add in the candle holders and purple and pink Advent candles and well...
I had suggested I could strip eucalyptus leaves off supple young branches from our trees and make a wreath out of those, but my man Matthew detests the smell of eucalyptus and couldn't stand the thought of any part of that tree invading his home.
The briar and grapevine wreaths my parents used to roll for a living in Tennessee, during my childhood, would have been free - at least for me, their daughter. I could have asked my dad to roll a thick, beautiful, curly-cued 16-inch wreath, and then my mom, so much more gifted with her hands than I, would have wrapped it for me in ribbon and bows, burgundy velvet or bright red/green plaid. It would have been beautiful; it would have knocked Nostalgia's pants off. I would have kept it forever.
But I'm left to roam with my children through Michael's, and when my son says he doesn't like the grapevine look, I tell him that his Paca and Grandmama used to roll up that vine; they used to make those things. Then I choke up as I say to my husband, "I want it to be grapevine."
So we buy a plastic evergreen wreath with fake poinsettia leaves, real pine cones, and red, beady berries, but it has a grapevine base. We find a silver candelabra and taper candles to make it officially an Advent wreath.
For some reason when we purchase the wreath, with its vine jutting out wildly beneath its festive trappings, I think of the enormous briar one my dad made and hung over our porch out in the boonies of Tennessee at Christmas. He lit it up with strands of light. I remember it being all shades of green - vibrant green, thorny briar, neon green lights. Our neighbors on the other side of the creek said they could see it from across dusty Spann Road, the only ones who could see it, but for them it was a beacon of cheer.
Tomorrow when I light that first candle of Advent, I hope my store-bought wreath becomes that beacon of cheer for all who gather at my table.
Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.