There was a bare spot on our Christmas tree, so naturally this is where we placed the polar and koala bears.

I love the calico squirrel and his gold walnut, which were found in two different places at two different times, but must always be hung together.  And one of our favorite ornaments was given to us by Chris’s mother, who used to volunteer at the Brandywine River Museum.  The museum is famous for its Christmas “critter” decorations, made from things found in the fields and forests of Chester County, PA.  This particular one is perfect for us because our canoe trip last summer began at the Brandywine River Museum.

Alone in this family, I am a big fan of 1950s and 1960s home-made ornaments featuring felt angels and pixies.  There was a time when I would have found them horribly tacky, but now I love them, and rescue them from rummage sales whenever possible.

Our friend Carol, whose death in March has left a bare spot in the lives of all who knew her, is terribly missed.  Her birthday was in December.  She always hosted our book club meeting at her house before Christmas.  She dreamed up special menus weeks in advance.  She decorated for the holidays like nobody’s business. 

Perhaps ten years ago, she became obsessed with the idea of making a pine cone wreath.  Her daughter Erin was in high school and her son Alex was nearly 10, as was Ian, but I still had Hugh and Malcolm needing me every minute – so it was hard for me to find the time to go out hunting for pinecones with Carol.  Still, we made a couple of stabs at it, and managed, squirrel-like, to stow what we did find in our garages, promising to find more “next year” and finish the dang job.

We never did that.  It became a running joke.  Carol started giving me pinecone-shaped candle holders and pinecone soaps, pinecone sachets and pinecone notecards.

She was also unsurpassed in her love for candles and candle accessories. 

This year, when we light these candles, we will think of Carol.  The little wreaths with tiny pinecones at the base were the last gift she ever gave me – her New Year’s present to us.

But this is not where the blog post ends.  Perhaps a month ago, I was driving home on Rabbit Run, a little winding street where Carol often walked her dog Mollie.   What to my wondering eyes did appear but an absolutely enormous pinecone wreath.  And it was leaning up against someone’s trash cans. 

I brought it home.  Chris reattached dangling cones, put lights around the whole thing, and hung  it by our front door.    Although it was really like cheating – this thing fell off the back of a truck!  - I think that somehow, somewhere,  Carol must approve.  

  I finally have my pinecone wreath.

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