If we’ve learned anything these past two years, it’s just how singularly important our homes are. Under the definition of home, I include with the physical house, the family/friends/pets we live with, the garden/favorite park, the neighborhood. and the community in which one is privileged to live. What contributes to our well-being are a string of linked people, groups and spaces. It makes sense then, that we each must do our part for ourselves and each other to be healthy and well.
Taking the concept of home as my theme for the holidays, I decided that all the decorations would be things I already had and/or could find in the garden. The big bay standard was already the Christmas tree but what of garland or wreath? Other adornments?
Because of a family member’s allergy to evergreens, no traditional evergreen tree, garland or wreath. Not a problem. Bay standard holds itself very well in lights and all the ornaments collected/made over decades. As I’ve said in previous posts, foraging the garden was in order for the garland.
All the hydrangea flowers cut for autumn displays were sprayed in gold. I could’ve left them natural but the holidays deserve a bit of pizzazz. They look positively glamorous in gold – I’m so thrilled. On lengths of grapevine from the arbor, the gorgeous golden clusters were attached with wire. It looked good just that way. But why stop at good? I inserted beautiful leaves from the magnolia espalier – the top surface of glossy, dark green contrasts so strikingly with the suede brown underside. They add that bit of extra elegance to the garland for sure. But, I needed something for whimsy. Whatever remained of the beauty-berries after the birds had finished were salvaged and the stalks were inserted in the garland at random. I think it all comes together very nicely – pretty, festive, sophisticated yet with hints of carefree. For all that it is really just a simple, sweet creation from the garden. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of the generosity of the garden.
The amaryllis coming along in various pots and candle lights in the windows round out the holiday decor. That’s it. Exactly to our taste. Nothing extravagant or ostentatious.
The gifts we’re giving are all either homemade ( lemon marmalade, gingerbread cookies) or products that are meant for personal or household chores – they are not only gentle to humans and the environment but eliminate the need for plastic containers altogether. Think dish-washing soap and powder, cellulose cloths for cleaning and wiping, toothpaste and mouthwash tablets and biodegradable dental floss made from plant material. We made the switch to all these and other products over a year ago and have been pleased with them. I figure that gifts expressing our shared concern for the health of the environment and ourselves would encourage the recipients to make the change as well.
My remaining gifts fall into two more categories. Products whose purchase goes entirely to a good cause ( WWF, cures for certain diseases, UNICEF, social justice, etc.,) is one. The other is memberships to worthy organizations such as museums, botanical gardens, historical societies local to but not frequented by the recipient.
Gifts from the heart that reflect our homes, our values and our interconnectedness to everything and everybody in the ultimate home that is our beloved planet Earth.
(c) 2021 Shobha Vanchiswar
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