Workshop 12/8 @ 6pm
Register by 11/23
The Wreaths Across America convoy is stopping in Eliot again this year on December 12th, enroute to Arlington National Cemetery. Prior to their visit, the WAA is partnering with the William Fogg Library to host a wreath-making workshop on Thursday, December 8th at 6 p.m. at the Fogg House. Snacks and drinks will be available. The cost of the wreath kits is $18.50 and all proceeds to to the WAA. If you want to participate in the workshop, honor veterans and enjoy a great holiday project, then you must purchase the kits prior to November 23rd. According to the WAA, this is a fun family project. The kit includes 10 balsam fir bouquets, one 10-inch clamp ring and one four-loop red velveteen bow. The wreath will bring the fragrance of the Maine Woods into your home for the holidays. Call the library at (207) 439-9437 to register or stop by. No registration is complete without payment and checks can be made payable to William Fogg Library.
The workshop, hosted by the Trustees, is being held in honor of Larry Kent, who worked tirelessly for the library. An avid gardener, Larry was well known for his wreath-making. Each Christmas, he made dozens of wreaths which he gave to the town, to community organizations, friends and anyone needing a touch of holiday spirit.
If you would like to donate snacks for the event, please sign up the library. We welcome popcorn, cider, lemonade or baked goods. Thank you!
My Father’s Christmas
By Crystal Ward Kent
My father has that look so often associated with the outdoors — skin tanned from wind and sun, weathered hands (he never wears gloves), and the kind of frame that always seems most at home in hunting jackets, ballcaps and boots. To look at him, one would not see a weaver of holiday beauty. That role would seem to belong to artsy women in floral shops, not to a crusty Mainer, now in his mid seventies.
But from my Dad’s fingers come wreaths of balsam, yew, boxwood and holly. He fashions garlands
and ropes, creates centerpieces and corsages. My father learned his craft as a teenager, taught by his dad, who had learned from his. There was no formal training involved, just one generation showing another the ways of the evergreens, and how to change a bit of greenery into something magical.
His greens come from our land, a bit of acreage in the small town of Eliot, Maine. When my parents first married, my father started a nursery as a way to supplement their income. They were living in a trailer, both working multiple jobs as they saved for a house. The sturdy little trees thrived and grew, and over time were sold. Today, few of the original plantings remain, and my father is retired. But there is enough greenery for traditions to carry on.
As the days shorten, my father’s greenhouse becomes an island of light and warmth, adrift in the darkness and cold. The greenhouse smells like summer soil spiked with balsam. Only one part of the workbench is covered with cuttings — my father makes everything fresh and will not cut until he is ready to create. An old Styrofoam wreath frame, veteran of countless holiday seasons, lies ready, waiting to be transformed. To one side, decorations are piled in a jumble of color. Glistening balls of red, silver and gold, crimson holly berries, snowy white reindeer of plastic and wood (very old). These are his tools of magic. Bows hang from the greenhouse rafters, parading in red, white, gold and burgundy. These are the classic colors, the classic looks, my father says. These are tradition. Other colors — plums, mustards, blues — they are fads; they come and go. But red bows and holly berries, gold balls and prancing reindeer, these spell Christmas. These are what people request year after year.
My father’s fingers fly as he works. Clip and stick, clip and stick. Swiftly he cuts the holly into gradually longer lengths, all the while inserting it into the wreath frame. He steadily layers the wreath, building it from the outside in. Meticulously, he checks for gaps, holes or wayward strands. My father’s wreaths are unique; they do not have big holes in the center. They are round masses of greenery and color. Satisfied, he begins decorating. No two will look the same, so he chooses his decor with care. Now, the bow, then the finishing touches, a spritz of SNOW for the evergreens, or SHINE for the holly. The wreath is briefly scrutinized, then hung in the greenhouse until delivery.
Sometimes there is a special request, but most recipients of my father’s wreaths trust his sense of color and theme. They wait each year to be surprised at the bit of holiday magic he has woven. And his handiwork never fails to delight. The wreaths make their way to the town hall, the library, the SPCA for a charity auction, church fairs, an historic home, and to old friends and neighbors. Sometimes the recipients a re those facing an especially difficult Christmas — a parent is ill, a divorce occurred, a son is overseas. The circle of decorated greenery is especially meaningful to them, a sign that someone cares.
My dad enjoys delivering the wreaths himself. Like Santa Claus in a pickup truck he makes his rounds. He carefully unloads the wreath, then bounds into the house or office with a whiff of cold air and evergreen trailing behind him. Seeing the smiles and hearing the exclamations are his reward. A cup of coffee, a bit of a chat, and he’s off to his next stop. This ritual has been part of his holidays for decades.
I have seen him at work hundreds of times, yet it suddenly strikes me that I am not just watching a wreath come to life, but the holidays themselves. For each wreath is crafted with caring, with personal regard for what the recipient might like. Each wreath carries with it a message of tradition and family, of taking time to create something special. My father would never admit this, but love is woven into each garland and wreath. For he gives all of his creations away. And as they are hung on a door or wall, they carry the true spirit of Christmas with them.