Environment » Sustainability & Innovation

Holiday Perspectives with Danielle French

"I love the holidays and I especially love decorating for them."

I love the holidays and I especially love decorating for them. I love having balls hanging in the windows, lights outside and setting the table with greens. I always spread out the decorating process over the month and this year, I confess I started early – in mid November. I decorate a little bit every week and I like to get a jump outside before the frost makes putting branches into the urns impossible.

One of our early years here at the farm, I waited far too long to attend to the outdoors and ended up lugging hot water out to put over the soil to soften it up for decorating the urns before an event. That is a big job here as we have a lot of planters around the barn, by the drive shed/kitchen our shop and then of course the house. This year, I tied red ribbons on some of the branches to liven them up a little bit and they seem to stay on even with the snow and wind. The clematis climbing in abundance during the summer months on the fence in front of the drive shed dries perfectly in tiny white puffs creating the illusion of snow in December. We also hung a Christmas tree in the barn from one of the beams and I put on my German straw ornaments, red ribbons and of course lights. It was all looking very festive even before the 1st of December!

Danielle French says she got started on her holiday decorating early this year.

The next task is decorating the front porch and inside in the kitchen. Even though they dry out more quickly, I lay greens down the centre of the kitchen table adding in an ornament to a planter or two. I have snowflakes that hang from the light fixture and a few greens here and there it is a festive feel. I love this time of year, a little bit of snow to cover the mud and outside the air smells like cold and wood fire.

I’m sure I am not alone in taking stock of things I’m grateful for and things I want to change heading in to the new year. I am grateful for all of my family, for having good food to eat and a warm place to enjoy both. I am happy to have my life somewhat organized and spaces tidy and clean. I enjoy taking a break, having a cup of coffee in the afternoon and appreciating the decoration, the light coming in through the windows and looking ahead when the girls will all be home.

My “wish list” this year is the same as last year and all the years before; I love making things with my daughters. We always include some sort of baking like cookies or a gingerbread house, an ornament of some kind. Some years the crafts became more complicated like making lotions or beading bracelets and earrings. It feels good to me to sit around the table, listening to carols, chattering away and just putting things together with our hands. Now that my daughters are older, and are in the process of leaving our nest, I know they appreciate coming home and making things together.

Found things add personality to any holiday arrangement. (Danielle French)

One thing I love to put together and give to friends or as a hostess gift is a small planter with a combination of things from my garden that can then be given back to the garden in the spring. I’ve purchased specific ingredients for my mini containers like paperwhites and amaryllis and then added things from the garden that I saved before the frost set in and could easily overwinter like hens and chickens, sedum, moss or even rosemary. I have rocks and shells that I’ve collected over many years from seashores and lakes or forest walks and I include them in the arrangement. Finding containers now is easy enough and I collect them all year long. It’s a bit of a disease I have, collecting things. Fortunately I have the space for them but I know that at some point, it is enough! I take out the bulbs from their pots being careful of the roots and replant in the container with the collected treasures.

Share your garden with loved ones this holiday season, says Danielle French. (Danielle French)

My gifts to my family this year will reflect my decorating sentiments. Taking time together, using some things I already have for creating something special. I have our garden bounty for making tasty things to eat. We are most fortunate in that we have everything we need; we have abundance in a warm home, in good food to eat and we have each other. I’m hoping we can find some time to plan nothing, to enjoy each other and to sit around the table and make something, play board games, listen to music, enjoy the land and our home and simply appreciate one another.