The Holly and the Ivy (or The Cedar and the Yaupon)

by Stefani on 16-December-2009

Every year we make the trek to the local big box lawn and garden center and pick out our Christmas tree. The boys love this, and I will admit that it does feel rather festive to sort through (and sniff!) them all and pick just the right one. It's fun to wait in line at the check out with bouncing, excited little boys, so proud of their choice. It's giggly goodness to watch papa struggle with tying it to the top of the car and to drive home feeling like a banner waves over us declaring, "It is officially Christmastime!"

… but…. it always makes me a little sad that we don't cut our own tree. There's something right and true about going into the woods as family, leaves crunching underfoot, each of you taking your turn at the saw. It feels real, honest… not at all like the consumerist, cookie cutter feeling I get from buying a tree at a store. 

Yes, there IS a tree farm about an hour and a half's drive from home and every year I think we'll make the trip, but we never seem to gather up the will to take that drive. I'm not sure why. I guess deep down I don't really want to visit a farm either (though we have once, and it really was lovely.) It's better than a store, for sure, but still, it isn't the same as receiving the gift of your family's tree straight from the hands of nature. I have ridiculously romantic (in other words, very unrealistic) notions of what it would be like to wander the wintry woods in search of the perfect centerpiece for our holiday festivities. 

But we don't live in a pine forest. 

We don't live anywhere near a pine forest. 

So, when I read Sarah's sweet memories of her mother's wreath-making, I knew what we had to do. 

We loaded up our clippers, buckets and bags and we walked into the wild. 

Men In Trees

It was colder out than we thought it would be. Our 70 degree weekend highs have vanished. 

But it was good. There's nothing like that feeling…  chilly air burning your lungs, rubbing reddened hands together for warmth, running until you're hot, then shedding your coat only to want it back just as soon as the wind blows.

And best of all, silence….  no one else around. No one talking too loudly on her cell phone to her BFF about what shoes to wear to the party, no creepy guy invading your personal space in the check out line, no overtired child shrieking his disapproval to his completely oblivious parents as they debate the merits of the inflatable reindeer vs. the giant musical snowglobe. 

I love shopping. Can you tell? 

Anyhow, back to the woods…. 


River Run 

We don't have pine trees where we live, it's true, but we DO have cedar and yaupon (plus a few leftover clippings from the Christmas tree). 


And now we have a wreath. 

Our Wreath

There were a lot of hands (and a whole lotta florist wire) involved in the making of that wreath. There was talk of the symbolism of circles and evergreen. There was cocoa to warm us and laughter over the silly lopsided shape of our creation. We had a good time gathering and making together. 

So, I hope that as imperfect as our little wreath is, it will serve as a reminder this holiday season of the perfect gift of family, and this beautiful world in which we live (crazy shoppers and all). I hope too that a new tradition has found it's way into our celebrations. 

A merry day to you all! 

Anna December 16, 2009 at 9:52 am


Visty Lindgren December 16, 2009 at 10:15 am

We do cut our own Christmas trees every year now, but we live in the Pacific Northwest. I wish I could cut down the 11 gigantic ugly pines that the neighbors have which block out my sun.

But anyway. When we were starting our family, we lived in Colorado, in the foothills of the mountains. You either have barren plains or protected aspen and spruce forests. We could rush to buy one of the very few $10 permits the forest service hands out (we did that one year) to go out and cut one, but usually we made a nighttime trip to our favorite grocery store.

The Christmas tree lots that popped up around the city were festive. Our grocery store was all pretty in the front and had tons of pretty ones coming in every few days. They had someone giving out cider, too. One year, we got there when the truck did and we waited until he unloaded. He was laughing at us and we were happy.

We also got our halloween pumpkins from that store every year. Good memories. When we left Colorado, I actually CRIED about losing our grocery store. Even though we cut them now, I don’t feel the memories we are making are any “better” because we go to a farm. Some years they are downright crabbyish because of the walking around and choosing from THOUSANDS of trees. THOUSANDS I tell you. And it gets damn cold being out there for two hours.

Around here, there are plenty of consumerist asses at the tree farms to be had. I saw a lady in tiny kitten heels this year. Standing around looking like a deer with a broken leg while she tried to figure out what to do in the dirt.

I love your wreath!

Stefani December 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

Is it the wackaloon that owns those trees? If so, I say cut ’em! 🙂

Your little store sounds like such a gem, and such a great place to be. Maybe it isn’t that I don’t want my tree from a store. Maybe it’s just that I don’t want my tree from a crass, cold, unfeeling, personality-less store full of people who seem so hell bent on out doing each other.

But I kinda DO think it would be awfully fun to watch women in heels navigate the farm. I’d pay money for that. I really would 😉 It could make for a damn fine Japanese game show, don’t you think?

Oh wait… didn’t Paris Hilton already star in that show?

I think the Egg Nog is making me snarky

Julie Alvarez December 16, 2009 at 10:46 am

Such a good idea.
I have a small small story to share too, here:

barbara December 16, 2009 at 10:53 am

so pretty! we were lucky enough to saw down a baby tree from my mom’s woods, though it wasn’t a pine. they are moving, so this will be the last year that will happen! kinda sad 🙁

Visty Lindgren December 16, 2009 at 11:09 am

No, not the wackaloon’s trees. But the wackaloon has some ugly bushes I could start poisoning with vinegar…

molly w. December 16, 2009 at 12:06 pm

How pretty! and what great memories!

Kelly December 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Oh what fun! I love the lopsided wreath! 🙂

Lia December 16, 2009 at 12:46 pm

It’s beautiful. And I love the story.

Sarah December 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I love the simplicity of that set up on your table. The wreath is beautiful and the log candle holder is so rich and earthy. What a cozy spot!

renee @ FIMBY December 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Very nice wreath. I totally hear you on shopping and we live about 10 minutes from tree farms but still choose to buy our tree from the fundraising lot at the mall. Choosing a tree just takes too much of our weekend time when we’d rather be hiking, not milling about a tree farm. Each to their own!

Catherine December 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Your wreath is gorgeous!

melissa December 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm

lovely. the birds already ate all of the berries off my yaupon holly and it hasn’t even lost its leaves yet.

Marianna December 16, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Lovely…afraid I would sneeze the whole time it was in the house, but I do love fresh greens from nature!

darlene December 16, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I love your story and the finished project! Really love the log candle holder too! Sure that was probably handmade homemade too!

BOATBABY December 16, 2009 at 3:40 pm

It’s a fabulous wreath! And I love the log candle holder too – did you make that? I feel the same way about shopping by the way. blah.

Stefani December 17, 2009 at 7:11 am

I was so afraid of that too, and I did sneeze a bit when we were making it, but haven’t since… PHEW!

Stefani December 17, 2009 at 7:12 am
Stefani December 17, 2009 at 7:12 am

Thank you! We sure did, out of last year’s Christmas tree:

amanda December 17, 2009 at 8:07 am

I think its perfect! What a great job! My mother always made swags of cedar bows, and big wreaths to cover every entrance. I was just saying last night that the moment I leave the desert I want to to this.

Congratulations on creating such a beautiful centerpiece. The log candle holder goes perfectly!


cloth.paper.string December 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm

oh stefani! i’m so pleased to read that my crazy crafty mama’s antics from decades ago inspired your wreath-making too! your finished wreath is beautiful! xox

greta December 17, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Oh I just had to smile when I read this post. It sounds so much like one I just wrote myself. It’s really, really similar.
I guess that is why I like reading your blog so much. I can tell you are a kindred spirit.
And the wreath idea is fabulous. I don’t think it will happen this year. But I will add it to the list for next year.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts,

beecher December 18, 2009 at 6:10 am

Oh my! That is a beautiful Christmas wreath. That’s what they’re supposed to look like IMHO!

RodGabFan December 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm

I think I know a certain wilderness camp in the piney woods of Bastrop where we can cut some really nice trees next Christmas. Waddya say?


Nancy December 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

lovely wreath and the memories made are even better, i’m sure.

i grew up in the country, deep in the hills. every year dad and i would go to the pasture and find a pine tree that would work as a christmas tree. they were usually somewhat of a charlie brown tree but i love the memories of loading up, just dad and me, in the old truck and heading out.

Annie December 23, 2009 at 10:15 am

I love the log candle holder…

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