Last Christmas I poured my heart into finding us the most beautiful wreath. It was our only decoration that year and all I could bear as I witnessed my mother slowly dying. That wreath hung on our door nearly til she left us in February.
Momma believed in Christmas. I learned recently that the root of belief means “to hold dear,” and with everything I am I want you to know – my mother held this season dear. If someone had asked her, “What do you want for Christmas?” She might have answered, “The ability to give.” Believing means receiving what you have given. She gave her heart.
Last year’s wreath was custom made by Farmer Tom at Springdale Farms in Cherry Hill who told me: “If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for, I will make it for you.” And he did. He made us the most beautiful wreath I had ever seen. I couldn’t hold back tears when I saw it and I left a small tip when I paid in an attempt to show the gratitude my words could not convey. I would have paid a thousand times what it cost me. I wanted to give my heart for it… It was my heart.
Now it is Christmastime again. My first without my mother. I need a new wreath.
I called over to the farm market last week: “When is the kind man in who makes the wreaths?” “He is here now.” “We’ll be right over.” Dad and I made our way there. Swallowing grief, blinking back tears, I ordered nearly an exact replica: Red ribbon trimmed in gold. Balsam. Holly. Pine. Farmer Tom asked me to write my name atop our order slip which he took from me and stared at for a long while. “Elizabeth Wolf.” He said it several times. “Hold on a minute.” He went rummaging through a pile of papers then produced my order sheet from last year, lifting it like a treasure:
“Here you go. I have a credit for you.”
A ten dollar bill dangled behind it.
It was the tip I had left him. My heart. He had been holding it for me. Holding it dear. Believing in me through this long year in which I lost my mother. All these months as I’ve been grieving that bill has been waiting for me. Sitting on a shelf taped to a piece of paper waiting for Christmas to come. Waiting to be remembered. Waiting for me to receive back what I had given. Waiting to wreathe me into believing.