Chatter and Chitter Christmas

Gathering Greenery for Christmas

tipper cutting boxwood

“Wreathes and table centerpieces made from natural materials such as hazelnuts still in the husk; cones from hemlocks, white pines, and other types of evergreens; sweet gum balls; sycamore balls milkweed pods; old wasp nests; small bird nests, and the like were standard decorative features of Christmas. So were wreaths made from grape vines and then interlaced with evergreens or sprigs of holly. The sycamore and sweet gum balls could also be dipped in a flour and water mixture and then dried to give them the appearance of miniature snowballs. They could also be painted silver or gold. These carefully crafted items gave Momma, a great deal of pleasure, always drew favorable comments from visitors, and added appreciably to the overall festiveness of our house at holiday time.”

—Jim Casada – “Smoky Mountain Boyhood Memories, Musings, and More”

When I was growing up Granny often brought in cuttings from the yard to spruce up our house for Christmas. It’s a tradition I’ve continued at my own house. Chatter and I recently spent a wonderful day adding fresh greenery to vases and jugs around the house. While we were at it we made a couple of wreaths.

The greening of our house made it more festive and brought the wonderful scent of evergreens into our home. But mostly it was a day of making memories with my girl who will have her own house to green up next Christmas.


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  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    December 15, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    Today was a perfect day for gathering the greenery. My youngest granddaughter who is almost 18 went with me. We found white pine boughs, glossy magnolia leaves, red berries, and several other kinds of greenery. I loved being out in the woods with my granddaughter and she seemed to enjoy it alot too. We haven’t crafted our bounty into anything yet but tomorrow is another day and my creative juices are flowing. I’m excited to have their fragrance fill my home and brighten it up with it’s beauty. Merry Christmas everyone! Have some fun and remember Who made it all possible. Jesus.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    December 14, 2021 at 3:34 pm

    Just don’t make the mistake of making wreaths (or anything really) out of kudzu. As long as it is dry and stays that way, fine. The least little bit of water gets on it (like forgetting to bring a kudzu basket in out of the rain), it’ll start to grow – again!

    I love the smells of Christmas greenery! One year I went to a Christmas tree lot and picked up a bunch of the cuttings off the ground. The folks were rather bemused and told me to take all I wanted. Worked great for the first little while until they all started drying out and dropping needles everywhere. Still it was worth the sacrifice – of me and the vacuum – to have the real smell of fir and pine in the house.

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    December 14, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Since my first memory of going out with my Aunt Elvia to cut our Christmas tree from the land belonging to my Grandpa Nix, the love of the outdoors and the feeling of Nature being all around me has a precious longing for me. When I was younger I made it a point to take the kids, whether mine or my nieces and nephews with me and we would go through the woods and collect all kinds of greenery. I loved it and I wanted the children to remember those good times. We would decorate outside and inside and delight in the red bows and berries adding color to the greenery we had harvested. Now that I’m older I probably wont get out very far in the woods but I am certainly in the mood to gather some greenery. I hope some of those that tramped through the woods with me will remember and think about those good times we’ve shared. I treasure them and I love them all.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 1:11 pm

    Ron Stephens mentioned he couldn’t find the old-fashioned hard candy they had bought before. Years ago my husband and I were up in Vermont and visited The Vermont Country Store. We sure had fun looking at all the candy, perfumes, soaps, etc., that we grew up with. They had all the old candy that we knew from the late 40’s and 50’s. We still get the catalog and they have a web site so you can check out the classic candy. The address is:

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    It seems like everything comes to life and it a way , it does. This yr is a little different because we have loss quiet a few people. I feel for those that have lost their family. We still decorated . I went outside and collected some pinecones. We got some qith cinnamon to.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    Jim Casada’s boyhood memories and your Greening the House Video sure make us all remember our Childhood Christmas Memories. What runs deep is the love and appreciation of our families’ creative abilities to utilize nature’s gifts to us. I remember my one Aunt telling me the story about her and my Mother pulling off the side of a road on a very hot September day in NE MS. They walked across the road to a median strip of land dividing the highway, and started picking some wild Queen Ann Lace to dry for Christmas Tree Decorations. One was in her late 70’s and the other in her early 80’s, and they still enjoyed the wonderful time together creating from nature’s bounty. They clipped off the stems, dried the heads, sprayed each with hair spray and quickly sprinkled silver glitter over the top which held the glitter. These simple little flower heads made the most stunning decoration on a Christmas Tree but my Aunt telling the story of how they found these little beauties in the heat of a day, and at their age, brought her and us to bent over laughter as we thought of passerby s wondering what in the world those elderly ladies were doing out on that median.

  • Reply
    Hank Skewis
    December 14, 2021 at 12:09 pm

    I love the greenery too. We have a native evergreen shrub called Toyon or “Christmas Berry” whose berries ripen to a brilliant crimson red every year about this time. We don’t pick too much of it though since the birds love those berries! Also our persimmon trees drop their leaves in early-mid December leaving their bright, orange fruit exposed; our natural “Christmas tree.”

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    December 14, 2021 at 11:55 am

    I remember Christmas 1946(vaguely) while my Dad was in the Navy. My mother and I were living with her parents, the Charlie Mauneys in Union County GA. My Aunt Bess Mauney Conley lived there too as hubby was also in the Navy. Aunt Bess and I went over on the hill and cut a Cedar tree for Christmas. I still have a picture of me and that tree on Christmas morning, 1946. The hill is where A Step-Above Stables are located on Mauney Rd. “Pop” Mauney owned about 2400 acres there at one time. Lakeside Village is part of the old Mauney farm.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    December 14, 2021 at 11:30 am

    Traditional Christmas greenery often included “running cedar,” an evergreen ground-hugging forest vine that looks like cedar foliage, though it’s not related to cedar.

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 11:18 am

    My grandmother took milkweed stalks with the pods attached, stripped the leaves, added some other type of leafy branch, and painted everything white. She fanned them out and fastened them together, then took gold paint and dabbed small dots on the pod (wing) and an eye on the node (head) at the stalk, and it looked like a flock of doves in the branches.

    We gather grape vines and weave them into wreaths to decorate. We made a crown of thorns from crabapple branches for our church.

    Our Christmas tree was a small sapling, wrapped in cotton and decorated with homemade decorations along with a few store-bought baubles. We used ground pine for garlands.

    I enjoy gathering flowers and leaves, pressing them and attaching them to white cardboard to frame and hang for decoration.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    December 14, 2021 at 10:31 am

    I so enjoyed the video of gathering of the greens. You will have special memories of you and Corrie that she can pass down to her children. The smell of cedar, pine & other greens is a memory of mine. Take care and God bless!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Such sweet memories and nature makes the best decorations!

  • Reply
    December 14, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Growing up in East TN, I remember going to gather Holly for the mantel and Mistletoe. As a young boy I enjoyed the Mistletoe gathering most because we usually got to shoot it from the tops of the trees.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 14, 2021 at 8:36 am

    You make me think of Christmas smells; pine, cedar, oranges, tangerines, cinnamon – yum. Growng up, we always cut a tree from the wild. Going on the tree search expedition was a traditional part of Christmas. Sometimes we made garlands around the doors with pine branches. But our table was too small for much of a centerpiece and all the fixings to.

    To me Christmas without greenery is just missing something. I like to find it and collect it to and there are so many different kinds in Appalachia; cedar, yellow pine, white pine, holly, Christmas fern, mistletoe, hemlock, rhododendron, mountain laurel, ground pine, ground cedar, dog hobble, moss, galax and even horse sugar. And that is without mentioning the higher elevation spruce and fir. I have 8 things from that list here, plus rosemary and yucca. I have a wire wreath form and hope to make a decent looking wreath and a centerpiece but am not highly confident. I suspect I would have been better satisfied with a vine wreath though on several counts.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    December 14, 2021 at 8:02 am

    You and Mr. Casada write beautiful words that flow like sweet word water from the wellspring of the soul and it’s memories! Tipper, you’ll remember this Christmas with your baby girl as you make bittersweet memories together (before she runs off making new memories with the love of her life.) I bet your house looks and smells delightfully Christmasy!!! I just bought 9 windows for the back portion of my house to be installed this summer for my Christmas. It ain’t glamorous like a big diamond or new car but it will be very nice and warm. (I do hope.)

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 14, 2021 at 7:46 am

    I always enjoy your house at Christmas, your decorations are all over the house, inside and out, and they are just beautiful. Most of the decorations are handmade and some are bought, and all are stunning. I love how you know the history of every ornament and your wreaths are all handmade and plentiful. Tip, no one goes all out for Christmas like you do and I love it!
    Tip, you make Christmas really special and that’s because you are a very special girl!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 14, 2021 at 7:10 am

    Ah the festive aromas us dying drying evergreens. Greenery that becomes brownery in short order when it”s stem has been severed from it’t roots. “Let’s get a live tree this year, Mommy!” Yeah, get a live tree then forget to water it until the brown begins to show then water it so much it floats around in it’s bucket. “Oh please Daddy, we can plant it in the back yard beside the goldfish’s grave.” “Who’s we?””I think you mean me!” Oh well you are only young once, unless you are a shapely evergreen, then you only get to live half of once.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      December 14, 2021 at 8:59 am

      I think I did pretty good considering the font on this tiny chromebook is so small I can’t see what i am saying.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    December 14, 2021 at 6:36 am

    Sometimes the simple things such as “greening the house”really brings back memories of Christmas ‘ passed and sets the tone of happiness for the present. I really enjoyed watching you and Chatter gather the greenery and put the vases and wreaths together. Merry Christmas ❤

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