Deck the Barn

In our previous lives, and pre-children, J and I had made a bit of a tradition of going out and collecting lots of greenery the Saturday before Christmas, and making an evergreen garland to go across our inglenook fireplace.  The first year we hadn’t realised just how much evergreen this actually meant we needed to collect, and had to raid the conifers in our front garden (they always needed a trim anyway) to get enough coverage to hide the length of rope.  Though, inevitably, there would always be some peeking through, no matter how much we collected, as one section would stoutly refuse to do its duty, no matter how much wire we used.  Post children we’d hoped to keep the tradition up, but the amount of time to collect the shrubbery, as well as the amount of time it took to actually make the garland (usually FAR longer than you would imagine possible), just wasn’t doable with two small people to entertain.

This year they’re a little bit older however (though no easier to entertain) and so we thought we’d attempt the more manageable task of making Christmas wreaths.  The walk to actually go out and collect the greenery has been delayed and delayed, due to various events, or just the kids being too tired to drag them out of the house.  So we decided to do the collecting on the way home from dropping the boy at school (a few early mornings has meant we’re actually up and ready in time to do the short walk to school again).

The girl, when alone, is actually much easier to control when her brother isn’t around, so J and I got stuck into collecting a mixture of ivy, holly, pine and anything else that would look nice, from the hedgerows and verges round about, whilst the girl dutifully held the bag for us to put everything into.

A couple of holly sprigs later and the bag was deemed too heavy for her to carry, and instead she demanded we run home, in later life I am convinced she will be a marathon runner as she likes to run everywhere (and gets quite agitated if refused – even if mummy does, still, have a cold) and will only stop when her little legs finally tell her enough is enough.  J and the girl vanished off, and I enjoyed the peace as I searched for the elusive sprigs of holly that were still holding onto their berries.  The weather has noticeably warmed and so unfortunately I can’t pretend it was a beautifully frosty morning, with the grass crackling underfoot.  It was muddy and a bit boggy in places, but the mist was lying heavy over the fields, and the view of the herdwick sheep munching their way across the fields was still beautiful enough for me to once again count my lucky stars to live in such an amazing place.

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I finally caught up with them near a pine, which we carefully snipped some of the lower twigs from, and then we decided we had enough foliage to be going on with and headed home – at a trot dictated by the girl.

The plan was then that all four of us were to make the wreath – undoubtedly it would be a nightmare to actually produce anything that vaguely resembled a wreath, but we were hoping it would give us all a lovely festive glow and would be worth it in the end.  But the last few days have been a bit hectic to say the least, with school Christmas parties and pantomime outings, shopping trips to get the last presents, so the wreath making got delayed.  Yesterday dawned and, to be frank, the kids were knobs.  They’re both very tired at the minute which means they spend most of their time fighting over something, or glued to the television when we finally give in to get just a few minutes peace.  The day ended with bathtime, during which the girl smacked the boy across the head for pushing her and the boy responded with a deft uppercut to her face.  Lots of screaming and lots of shouting followed – and not all from them.  Thankfully they fell asleep during storytime and, breathing a huge sigh of relief, we headed downstairs, not in the best of moods about the evening’s proceedings.

J needed to apply a coating of wood seal to the pirateship playhouse we have convinced the grandparents to club together with us to buy the kids for Christmas, and so he headed out to the workshop where it is stowed, or maybe that should be docked.  I did the washing up, listening to the radio and enjoying the peace and quiet that had otherwise settled over the barn.  And then it struck me, I could make the wreath.  It would be a nice way to while away the time before J headed back in ready for The Apprentice.

We had previously bought a plain fake wreath, which we were planning on titivating with some real foliage, and so I dug it out of the cupboard, then went out and collected some of the shrubbery that was staying fresh on the floor of one of the outhouses (not just chucked there because we didn’t know what else to do with it, you understand).

The good thing about the fake background meant I didn’t have to add lots of pine and ivy just to cover up the wire, and so it was straight into just making it look nice.  I started off by entwining some ivy around the fake fronds, then built it up with some pine, more ivy, a couple of small pine cones and finally added some berry laden holly, a dried head of Queen Anne’s Lace (I think) and some cinnamon sticks and bells bought for wreath making purposes.

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And I’m pretty pleased with it, it is now hung from the door by a red ribbon I’ve been holding onto forever in my sewing box, knowing it would finally get repurposed somehow or other (I think it may have been wrapped around a present in a Christmas past).  Making it, definitely restored my festive spirit, whether it’ll last through the screams about my betrayal by making it alone, now that’s another matter.

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