Wreath Stories

This wreath had its beginning in my sister-in-law’s back woods in Minnesota in October. She encouraged me to find and wrap my own grape vines while she gathered hers. The circle of vines traveled with us in our car back to Virginia. Just before Thanksgiving, we spent time in a cousins cabin by the St. Mary’s wilderness. There I found a variety of greenery, which I then carefully added between the vines. When it was finally hung on a trellis by our garage in December, snow fell to decorate it. This wreath truly reminds me of the adventure of life–how we often don’t know what the outcome will be when we begin something and what surprises will add to the beauty. Our lives, like the wreath, are many-layered gifts. I did not make the vines, the greens, or the snow. They were created without my help.

This wreath is made from the single branch of an evergreen I found by the cabin in the wilderness. I love the wildness and unevenness of the sprigs flowing outward in its circle–the way life is–full of surprises. The sad and difficult experiences often give way to light and growth if we have patience. Now on our most-used door, this wreath cheers us daily.

A few weeks ago I foraged in a field by my nephew’s new house in southern Virginia. First I collected and wound grape vines. Finally, I found another vine that was long and narrow–perfect for the final binding. However, I was not certain what the vine was. The field was full of fragrant cedars, which I snipped to bring back home and complete the wreath. The bare circle, however, sat on my dryer uncompleted for some days. Several days later, my face broke out in a severe itchy rash. Then it spread to my legs and wrists. Evidently the “perfect” vine was a pernicious ivy. I thought of burning it in the wood stove, but then I decided to don gloves and complete attaching the greens so all my “trouble” would not have been in vain. Now it adorns my mailbox post and reminds me of redemption in spite of my carelessness. (I am recovering well.)

Wreaths have been symbolic of many things–everlasting life, growth, renewal, protection, unity, and balance–my favorites. I hope and pray that we can remember, in these uncertain times, that as long as the circle of life continues, there is hope for better things to come.

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