Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Greens at The Inn

Maybe it’s all the Christmases of past that were spent in Williamsburg.  Or the two trips to Germany and Austria when I fell in love with overstuffed window boxes.  Maybe it’s the fact that we live in an old house with original shutters and window boxes that my Dad made.  Whatever the reason, I have an overwhelming desire to hunt, gather and stuff this time of year…in a natural, green way.  I feel that we owe the window boxes some companionship through the cold winter months when they miss their summer flowers. 
As luck would have it, my neighbor cut down a large evergreen about a week ago.  Don't worry - it wasn't this magnificent tree.  We just borrowed a few branches from him.  My friend Karen and I made several runs with the wheelbarrow down Main Street…and she magically transported empty concrete urns into works of art in front of the inn.

 If you look around your yard, you may find the same – boxwoods that need to be thinned, scotch broom that should be cut closer to the ground so that it can withstand the harsh winter wind, holly trees that need shaping.  It doesn’t take the best or biggest branches to make fat overstuffed window boxes and they are simple to do.  Every scrawny twig finds its place to fill in the gaps.  Just be sure to push the branches in securely so that they won’t blow away. 
Boxwoods look great closer to the bottom and hollies are strong enough to stand proudly in the back.  The shapes provide enough contrast to make it interesting.  Water the dirt and your greens will stay fresh longer. 

The window boxes seem to dress the house for winter and, once snow nestles between the branches, I think they help insulate and keep the draft down.   A few beads, an occasional bird or decorative spray, wrapped by a ribbon and your house is decorated not only for Christmas, but will be looking good for several months to come.
In the summer, I love to throw open the windows and catch the breeze, but in winter, I feel comforted when I look out and the house is embraced by the branches in my window boxes! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving – Was It Just A Figment of My Imagination?

There used to be a holiday this time of year – a day off work to gather with family and give thanks for life’s blessings.  But this year there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of it, and I’m afraid that next year it may disappear altogether.

A local store is advertising the fact that you can shop their Christmas specials starting at 6:00 a.m on Thanksgiving Day.  I feel that my beautiful horn of plenty and the few Thanksgiving decorations are up for about one week before the boatload of Christmas stuff must be brought down from the attic.  (It’s always tricky decorating around guests so we must start early to get all three houses finished.)

In a world that seems to rush by faster every year, the whole idea of Thanksgiving may seem a little, ah, old-fashioned.  Perhaps that is why I like it so much. It is so rare to take the time to reflect and give thanks.

Yes, the two holidays have always been related.  The Christmas season traditionally starts with the Macy’s Parade in New York City, but stores hardly wait for that seems like it’s still August when they start putting up the fake trees and dancing Santas.’s our most “American” holiday, and it appears it’s the only non-commercial one left.  So enjoy it while it lasts.....before you rush off to stand in line tonight to get into the nearest mall.

Here’s my short list of things for which I’m thankful:

To be surrounded by people I love
To be able to bring joy and comfort to those who stay with us
The sound of laughter in at our inn
To learn to be happy with my talents, limited as they may be
To appreciate the beauty that is Lancaster County
To be able to share with others and give back – whether it’s time, talent, money or just a smile
To be grateful always, for everything, especially good health
To look for the good in every person and situation

And my wish for the year to come - to be able to give thanks next November having enjoyed more of the same – at Thanksgiving time - a holiday that I’ll always celebrate.