Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Circle of Life

It's the holiday season and wreaths are everywhere.  Doors, windows, large buildings and small, I see them indoors and outdoors, even on trucks and cars.  Evergreens, berries, pinecones, and magnolia leaves, the materials that wreaths are made of today seem endless.  If they're not chock full of tacky plastic stuff, wreaths are welcoming signs, hopeful signs and even peaceful signs.

Wreaths are also a sign of faith in humanity and its circular shape represents eternity, for a wreath has no beginning and no end.   Wreaths have been with us since the ancient Greeks and Romans when wreaths were awarded to victors in sporting events.  Today, Christians continue the tradition of using wreaths for special occasions by displaying Advent wreaths in their homes at Christmas time.  Advent wreaths have four candles: three purple and one pink and one candle is lit each week of Advent with a prayer to help prepare for Christ's birth on Christmas.  In Scandanavia, wreaths feature candles as a sign of hope for the future light of spring.


I always hang a wreath on my front door every Christmas and my sister, who is excellent at making bows, makes a new bow for me every couple of years.  Besides my home, I also always buy a wreath to decorate my husband's gravesite marker.  Lots of people do this.  It's not a strange or weird thing to do at all.  A few years ago, I remember the New York Times ran a story on this subject.  The story wrote about a cemetary in Los Angeles and said that decorating a loved one's grave site is now a "populist yuletide ritual" practiced by thousands of Americans.  

I know that it's definitely true in my little area of the world because the cemetary where my husband is buried looks like some kind of extreme Christmas decorating set out of HGTV.  Driving through the gates, I see all sorts of wreaths decorated in every single color you can imagine and these wreaths lay side-by-side with small Christmas trees and other decorations that signify the season of Christmas and bring comfort to people during this time of year.  My wreath is rather plain compared to the others but I don't care.  It's just a traditional wreath made from greens with a big red bow but it looks great to me

I have a small metal stand that the wreath lays on and then I wire the wreath to the stand to withstand exposure to the animals and the winter elements.  I like to do this because it's my way of wishing my husband a Merry Christmas and while I am setting it all up I like to talk to him about what's been going on.  I'm sure he probably already knows about the things I tell him, but I do it anyway because I like to talk to him when I am there.

If no one is around, I just talk out loud about what's happening to me, what's happening with his children, and generally the things we would normally talk about.  This past Sunday, the sun was shining and the ground was soft as I set up my husband's wreath for another Christmas celebration.  As usual I talked on and on about everything.  I'm sure he was covering his ears at a certain point and probably was thankful when I stopped talking.

To those of you who have never done this or even thought about doing it, it may seem strange to decorate a grave site and sustain a one-sided conversation with someone who is not physically present.  Rest assured, it is not unusual.  You may eventually find yourself doing it someday.  It will make you feel better as it makes me feel better.  You'll be connecting with someone you love and care about and that's what the season of Christmas is about.

In case you are interested, here is the link to the New York Times story:


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