The Christmas wreath
Updated: Nov 29, 2019
The town is taking on the look of Christmas.
Towering trees are encircled to the very top with glowing lights, and Mother Nature has added a generous blanket of snow to add to the festive beauty.
Growing up in the country, with little money, we had an annual tradition which involved making our own wreaths and bells to decorate our little home.
The making of the wreath involved a wire coat hanger and a green plastic bag. The coat hanger was carefully reshaped until it took on the form of a circle, while still maintaining the handy hook at the top.
A green garbage bag was then cut into hundreds of strips, each about eight inches long and one inch wide. The children were then set to the task of tying the strips all around the wire circle until it was completely filled and very bushy, thus resulting in a satisfying plastic replica of a Christmas wreath.
The making of the Christmas bells required some a suitably festive shade of red paint, a bowl of water, and the half-inch end that would snap off a roll of wallpaper back in those days.
The little home was not well insulated, but with two wood stoves, an oil stove, about twenty layers of insulating wallpaper in all the downstairs rooms, constant baking and cooking, laundering of clothes, five children, two adults, two dogs and two cats, the home was usually very cozy, if not overly so.
As the children and pets battered about the little house, and occasional accidents occurred, the wallpaper eventually became worn and tattered in places, and frequently needed to be replaced. The patterns on the wallpaper generally reflected the ages of the children of the household as well. An archaeologist, or genealogist, might have found the patterns interesting if a study were to be conducted on the advance of the little population. Whatever the case, through the years the wallpaper patterns gradually evolved from pretty little kittens quietly nestled in baskets, to colourful but less noticeable bouquets of flowers, and finally to a more classic pale blue diamond pattern.
While the house was small, a roll of wallpaper does not necessarily go far, so we tended to go through many rolls, and the ends were carefully saved for the annual Christmas craft.
It was a very satisfying craft involving simple geometry, our hands, and a bucket of water. Because the rolls of wallpaper were self-gluing with the simple addition of water, all that was required was to stick our finger into the centre of the small end roll, push it out until a bell shape was formed, with the inner layer forming the top of the bell and the outer layer forming the bottom, then carefully immersing the whole thing in water. Once sufficiently dampened, we would carefully set the bell aside until it dried. A couple of days later, the bell could then be painted.
Combining the two crafts was a logical next step, and with the addition of ribbons and Christmas balls, and a quick spray of artificial Christmas snow, we had our own handmade Christmas wreaths.
The wreath was then hung on the back of our kitchen door, which was our main entrance in and out of the little country home. Because the wreath had been made by the children with the help of the adults, it said family, and it said Christmas, and we all loved it.
It was fun, simple and memorable, and it is still one of my favourite Christmas memories.