After celebrating traditional Christmas all my life, this year I am including some new customs that specifically celebrate our connection to Mother Earth - beginning with the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21).
Suddenly this holiday became more intimate, kind and peaceful for me, as I directed my energy toward decorations handmade and eco-friendly.
“The key to loving
how you live
is in knowing
what it is
you truly love.” - Sarah Ban Breathnach
In preparation for Solstice - and to make my home sweet-smelling and serene, I started with a naturally festive - and eco-friendly - garland.
This is a craft you can easily make your own, using found objects that make you happy.
Here is a collection of everything I used for the garland. It measured about 5 feet long.
I used: rusty jingle bells (leftover from another craft), cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, pine cones, and dried orange and apple slices.
I first sliced up a bag of oranges and apples, and dried them in my dehydrator. I put them on 130F and dried them for about 48 hours. If it's humid, you may have to go a bit longer.
Prior to drying the apples, I dipped them in lemon juice to prevent browning.
I love the simplicity of my Nesco food dehydrator!
I used a thin twine, usually used for tying packages. I also drilled holes in the cinnamon sticks, as it was much easier than trying to wrap each stick into the garland.
Stringing this garland took about 4 hours. I drank warm tea, listened to music and focused solely on the task at hand, allowing me to shut out the cares of the day and find peaceful respite.
I put excess garland materials into my wooden trough which is my dining room table centerpiece. Three small glass cups (50 cents each at a thrift shop) hold tealights.
Here is my tree with the finished garland:
So, long after the presents are unwrapped and the cookies devoured, my winter tree will continue decorating my cozy winter home with scent and light until the days grow longer and brighter.
Once winter has passed, I will take the garland apart and compost the fruit, cinnamon and bay leaves, and re-use the bells and pinecones. Until then, soak up these festive days of Winter!
is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand
and for a talk beside the fire;
it is the time for a home." - Edith Sitwell