For Christmas this year I had zero desire to decorate. But through gentle encouragement from my son and women here in these blessed little squares, I decided to unpack a few things and very slightly deck the halls of this old house. I placed our few carolers in pleasant spots, set up our little vintage manger scene, hung stockings. Finished. Christmas decor, CHECK. Or so I thought…..
Decorating the last few years, I have used fresh clippings of local greenery around our home. And in years past I have bedecked our front stairway, but never the way I had dreamed. That is, until this year! I was not going to do it on my own. I had no motivation for myself. But the idea of sharing this with others drove me to action. Two of my dear neighbors helped me. I gave them each a large bag, grabbed my clippers, and off we went to forage. We gathered Cedar, Pine, Holly, and Magnolia from abandoned lots. And Nandina from my own yard and a neighbors. We also had dried hydrangeas that my neighbor spray painted gold.
Another neighbor gave me a roll of copper wire to use. I wound the copper around the branches of cedar as the base, until I had the length needed. I then hooked the looped ends of the wire to hook-screws my son placed in tucked away places on the banister. My homemade garland was a bit droopy, so I raided my ribbon stash and tied up each run with a red satin bow. My neighbor was here to help with the ‘finishing work’. Once the base was hung we looked over the remaining greenery and decided our path of action. First we added the Magnolia cuttings, because they were the largest. Next we decided where the bunches of bright red Miniature Nandina should be placed. Through trial and error we then placed the lengthy bits of pine, we finally decided they should hang down to fill gaps in the cedar branches. The Holly and Nandina with the bright red berries were the next to be placed, and lastly the dried golden hydrangeas.
A few years ago I purchased several packs of ‘fairy lights’ to have on hand when we need a bit of lights to cheer us. They have pleasant little lights and are strung on delicate positionable copper wire. I used one battery operated strand on each rise of the steps.
Over the years our seasonal decor has evolved. In years past it took days to set up and days to take down. It wasn’t many years of that craziness of effort before I decided I would rather have those days for other seasonal activities! Also, I want our decor to have a more Victorian look and application, and have inched toward that goal each year. The way I see our future Christmas decor in my mind’s eye, is simple and beautiful. A few ornaments for a Christmas Eve decorated tree, including toys to tuck inside the branches. Fresh greenery in abundance. Lights. Stockings. A few caroler figurines as a nod to Christmas Past. Tea trays set and ready… and the stairway dressed for the season. When this stairway was complete, and I was soaking up the beauty of what this little community helped me create, I experienced Joy. For the first time in many many months, my grieved and broken heart was fully open to receive true, God given Joy. It was bubbling over. To speak coherently was difficult, as my friends who received voice messages that night can confirm. I was surprised, and thankful.