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I’m a prolific idea generator—and some are decent ideas, at that. But I have a bit of trouble realistically estimating time required to implement my ideas, especially amidst the pesky business of life. Without fail, I think: this holiday season will be different. I always pick up a couple of good Christmas gifts way early in the year. And feeling quite proud, imagine I’m in decent shape.

We have two birthdays this month, my husband’s on December 14, and Megan’s on December 27. We make a sincere effort to honor birthdays apart from regular seasonal fanfare. And this has somehow led me to doing next to nothing until Bill’s birthday is neatly tucked away. Then I ask myself this question in alarm: how is it already less than a week before Christmas? And what is it that I need to do again? This part is a little murky, because truth is, my forever holiday goal is: Do less. Enjoy more. Engage creatively.

Recently, Portland had a couple of terrific windstorms, and while out for daily walks, I began gathering bits of wreath material, thinking that was a grand idea. Honestly, I walk around half dumbstruck at nature’s beauty, tossed verily at our feet. I’m trending more enthralled with each passing year.

I took a bag along after my first forays—with the idea it would be easier to corral the treasures. There was so much. I gathered cones and lichen covered branches and all manners of evergreen fronds. Good enough. But every time I slowed down, Pumpkin, the wonder Chow, took license to wander like Helen Keller at the dinner table in pre-Annie Sullivan days.

Natures Bounty

So leash twining, dog tugging (who I’ve been training for ten years,) and then, if I wasn’t tangled up enough, my bag broke. Of course it broke. It was a scrawny old grocery bag, the kind that have been banned in Portland. (Remember when we thought we’d never run out of those plastic bags?) After all that hunting and gathering, though, I was not about to abandon my bounty. I managed to get it home. But by the time I reached the front porch, it seemed like 200 pounds, and looked a pitiful small amount to boot.



When a second windstorm blew into town: Plan B. Utilize The Men and heretofore stump-pulling rig to gather stick and frond.

Whoa Nellie; you can get loads with a rig. It made me so happy—until I started thinking about what to do with all that material. It’s not like I was having a catered crafting event a la Martha Stewart, but I kind of imagined something like that. (Next year, if I collect earlier and promise at least cocktails, will y’all come for a wreath making party?)




I made my first holiday swag with the help of florist wire I’d managed to locate in our new digs. But I couldn’t find the heavier gauge wire I’d need to keep it secured. So the initial beautiful swag lay on the ground for over a week while I tried to remember to go to the hardware store for more wire. Plus I still had a ton of material, and what the heck to do with that?


Front Porch Swag
Front Porch Swag


I do consider it a monumental feat that I’ve actually gotten a few wreaths put together. I’m happy with them. And I found pieces of some terrific ribbon, which I’ve been saving for a long time. I am my parents’ daughter: I stash for later—just in case. The swags I’ve gotten together would have been terrific gifts if it wasn’t getting so darn late. And truth is, I don’t do much gift giving for specific events like Christmas. I’m more an inspirational giver, as in saw this, and it seemed perfect for you.

Lanky Pretty Sure He Can Take It

Which leads to Plan C of Patricia’s great idea generator and actual implementation: When neighbors leave home, run out and sneak a wreath onto their porch.

That’s not too crazy, right?