11.23.2009

Traditions
Bring Meaning
to the Season

In my family we have a tradition of gathering every year (around Thanksgiving) in my sister’s kitchen to create fresh evergreen wreaths. We have a large family so this can become a pretty chaotic and noisy event. Add to that various friends who beg an invitation. In recent years we've moved out to the new shop building at the farm - with room to set up big tables and make a bigger mess. I've devoted a few posts to my sister's farm where most of the flowers are grown that end up in my illustrations. You can revisit them here and here.

Everyone - adults, elders and kids - are encouraged to create something. Whether it’s an unruly Charlie Brown swag or a large elegant wreath, all efforts are applauded and valued. In a kitchen full of fragrant pine, cedar and fir (gathered from the farm), and with soup cooking on the stove, we revisit memories from our past, and talk about future plans. This circle of wreath-making deepens our bonds, and opens our hearts. More than any other thing I do during the season this 'wreath day' with friends and family most grounds me in what's important.

This tradition started when I worked for an Ashland florist, called Flower Tyme, under the tutelage of Lou Ann David - I still consider her one of the best designers I know. I'd always loved flowers and crafting but learning floral design skills enriched and changed my life. I shared my wreath-making enthususiasm (and instructions!) with friends and family. My first week of work was early November over 20 years ago. This beautiful little shop is still going strong with Lou Ann still at the helm. Here I am below on a recent visit.



On the same walk, I visited another florist in town, Enchanted Florist. The exceptionally creative owners, Leslie and Brandon (you'll see Leslie at the bottom of this page), were the first to carry my greeting cards six years ago (Flower Tyme soon followed). Just a small handmade group of experiments back then... nevertheless they supported my efforts with enthusiasm.




If you're ever in Ashland, OR, these are must stops. Flower Tyme specializes in girlfriend gifts, and Enchanted Florist has a chocolate bar specializing in poured chocolate... need I say more.

I will add more wreath-making tips and lore on future posts - and pics from my adventures trying to make a living as a wreath-maker after quitting my day job. Wreaths are an ancient tradition full of symbolism and meaning and very much an influence in my art.

Over the next weeks, I'll be sharing more ideas and encouragement when it comes to seasonal traditions. Traditions add meaning to our lives by bringing awareness to our activities. We can create a unique cornucopia of rituals and traditions by choosing from established customs, changing and revitalizing some of them, or inventing new traditions. Blend traditions, old and new; make them your own, and make them meaningful. Let children participate in the creation of all this wonder and magic. By participating in traditions, while cradled in the warmth of family and community, children are given the most meaningful gift of all - a clear testament of their worth, and their place in the whole of life.

“If we hope to not live from moment to moment, but in true consciousness of our existence – then our greatest need, and most difficult achievement, is to find meaning in our lives”. Bruno Bettelheim