29 Dec A Foraged Christmas
How to make a rented condo with yellow walls and plasticized rules stuck to the wall your own at Christmas time.
I’m here in Quebec with our kids’ ski team. We’re staying with cousin Les and Pete and their daughter Belle in a brown condo, alongside all the other ski families in their brown condos.
Pete and Les have been at this for a while. Les arrives with a box full of hygge – white lights for the mantel, red woven placemats for the table and a pile of wood for the fire. I packed pesto, granola and a big jar of vinaigrette, so really, we’re a match made in heaven.
A few things, however, were missing, like the boughs, berries and vines that warm up my home this time of year. My aunts Sandra and Susan have taught us how to do this at their annual wreath making party. They forage for days for days, piling mounds of virginia creeper*, ilex, rosehips, pinecones and evergreen boughs on Susan’s veranda. They cover a table with scissors, twine and wire. Susan leaves out her scrapbooks packed with inspiration. They demo a few ideas each year to get us inspired, then we ‘go at it’. We all say it’s our favourite afternoon of the year.
We’re four years into this party now, so basically we’re all pros. That’s why it felt so natural to reach out for the trailing vines hanging from a chainlink fence as I skied by on the way home for lunch one day. After my tangled pile warmed up by the fire, I set to work making the tiny napkin ring wreaths that Sandra taught us to make at the last party. I love anything that’s beautiful AND practical. Needless to say, I was all over this project.
I wrapped a piece of vine around my fingers, forcing it into a circle, not worrying if it cracked a little in places. It takes A LOT to break these vines. As I wrapped, I twisted the vine around itself then tucked the end into a gap in the vines to hold it in place. Thickness of the wreath depends on how long your vine is, or how many tiny wreaths you choose to make. Some will look better than others. That’s ok.
I tucked my bounty in a box formerly housed by ski racing shin guards. Perfect!
Tiny wreaths are pretty just as they are, but feel free to add a sprig of berries and / or a tiny evergreen bough – basically whatever you can find outside that’s easy to clip and carry home, and won’t get you into trouble.
Les and I will stuff our napkins through these wreaths tonight when we set the table. At the end of the week we’ll split them up and take them home for our respective Christmas tables. Those little wreaths hold a bit of Quebec, a chain link fence, a snowy minus 17 C day, a wrenched vine liberated by a skier flying by and a loving napkin set on a functional condo table coated in plastic.
*Please turn a blind eye when you see Aunt Susan ripping meters of virginia creeper off public walls along the highway. I’m sure it looks suspicious, but she’s doing it for us. And really, vines like that are invasive. They need an annual rip.