It snowed November 4 in Northern Michigan, dusting my old stomping grounds with the promise of the December holidays. Here in Atlanta, I look for fresh magnolia branches tied with red gingham ribbon and outdoor pots puffed up with red dogwood, vine balls, pine boughs, bittersweet, purple pansies, Redbor kale and cabbages to signal the coming of my favorite holiday season. I scavenged for some giant pine cones on a recent trip to Hilton Head and will dot my Christmas decor with them, remembering when my mom brought me a basket of the huge pine cones she found in the yard of her and my step-dad’s place there.
Forty years earlier, she and I filled paper grocery bags with tiny versions (these mini pine cones were no bigger than a thumbnail) for a Girl Scout project. We saved tuna cans all year and my dad painted them matte black at his shop. Then, we used epoxy to glue 1” pieces of 3/4” copper pipe that he’d cut for us, into the center of the cans to hold a red taper candle. My fellow scouts and I glued the tiny pine cones onto the outside of the little cans, tied together two candles (probably with red gingham ribbon) and voila – gifts for our mothers. We had those pine cone candle holders for years and I’m sure families in our hometown did, too.
This year, I’ll visit the wholesale florist with my dear friend Sean O’Keefe and choose bundles of fresh flowers that call out to me. My two daughters will spread them out on the kitchen table, collecting every vase and vessel in the house and arrange the blooms for every room. I’d say it’s a tradition. It’s our second year doing this, so yes, it’s our new tradition.
It’s never too late to start making new holiday memories. I’m so nostalgic. Especially at this time of year.
I hope you are, too.
On the cover:
Drenched in daylight, the family hub in the home of Drew and Mary Elizabeth Ellenburg in Buckhead is shiny and ready for the holidays. The custom sectional, inviting armchair, tables, chairs and rustic wood chandeliers were designed by Mary Elizabeth and made in America by the Ellenburg Chair Company. EllenburgChair.com. Photo by Fredrik Brauer FredrikBrauer.com