The Second Most Important Decision of the Year (it's a wreath)
We all know that the tree is the pièce de résistance of the Christmas decorations, but let us not forget the ever-important second in command: the Christmas Wreath. The wreath is the first thing people see when they come to your home. It represents your Christmas spirit. Really, it represents your very soul.
I am particularly fond of wreath buying because it has turned into a special beginning-of-the-season tradition for me. My friends and I head to Bartram's Garden every year for their wreath sale and holiday market. Proceeds benefit this amazing National Historic Landmark which bring environmental education, arts, and culture to many, many Philadelphians. If you are not convinced that I am super pumped about Bartram's annual wreath sale, you should know that my face was used to promote the event this year:
It's totally a surprise to open your email and see your face looking back at you #WestPhillyFamous. I wore a crazy hat again this year, so maybe I'll get lucky twice. Anyway, we arrived at Bartrams full of Christmas joy.
In the courtyard, greens are splayed out on the bricks and folks more intrepid than we choose the boughs they want to use to make their own wreaths. All the greens are from Bartram's Garden (some of the trees there were planted in the 1700s!). There is magnolia, juniper, holly, pine, and many more species. It's all too much for me, Maurie, and Liz, so we focus on the walls of pre-made wreaths.
There is a lot at risk when you go to Bartram's for your wreath. You have to understand - this wreath sale is super popular. It starts at 10AM. We arrived at 10:05 and there were already holes in the wreath wall. One year we showed up around noon, and, boy, did we learn our lesson! It was only by chance of a Christmas miracle that Maurie walked away with a wreath that year. When we arrived, there were zero wreaths left, and barely any greens. Not enough to make a wreath even if we wanted to. The lovely folks at Bartrams apologized and said the last wreath was taken around 11:30. We went into the Christmas craft market and walked around despondantly. Soon we headed back to the courtyard thinking that some of the free hot chocolate they provide would cheer us up. We got to the hot chocolate table and suddenly saw before us a wall with one perfect, beautiful wreath hanging. We don't know where it came from - it certainly had not been there before. Even the Bartram's staff seemed confused. Clearly a Christmas miracle! Maurie bought that miraculous wreath, and we've arrived promptly at 10AM ever since.
When picking a wreath, I really appreciate a magnolia branch and interspersed holly and juniper berries. Some people like pine cones, some people like bows. There is really no limit to your wreath expression. Tell you what, though. There is something special about knowing your wreath greens came from your neighborhood. Maybe I will try my hand at making my own wreath next year.... You know what else I appreciate when picking a wreath? Free s'mores. Bartram's got them. Did you know that the make special s'more marshmallows now? They are rectangular! At first I was like "I don't know about these newfandangled marshmallows..." but now I am totally converted. Technology is amazing.
Anyway, we had a super successful experience at Bartrams. I am so pleased with my wreathfriend. I promptly took down the dried corn hanging from the front door of our apartment and hung up Mr. Wreath. I use a white wire clothes hanger bent over the top of the door frame as a wreath hook. Works like a charm. And the hallway smells like a fucking northern forest. Wreath is one of those words for me that the more I write it and read it, the less like a real word it seems, you know? Does that happen to you? I am looking at that word and I am thinking, "Who thought of 'wreath' and what were they doing with their life?" In any case, we'll see if I and my hat make the promotional material next year!