The holiday season is upon us and before long the snows will be blanketing the ground and trees with an all too frequent coating of white. As the snow flies and the Christmas decorations continue to go up, we often like to bring a piece of the outdoors inside to help spruce up around the house.
It probably isn’t a coincidence that the items most often used to decorate for the holidays are the few remaining things outdoors that haven’t turned a sullen grey or brown for the winter season. The plants that keep their lush green color during the drab months of the year make some of the best decorations.
I would be willing to bet that at this time of year almost every house around has the evergreen branches of some species of conifer, or pine tree, adorning their living room or den. Not only do we use the real thing, many of us resort to using artificial evergreens to decorate for the season.
Whether real or imitation, it just doesn’t feel much like Christmas without an evergreen Christmas tree to decorate with twinkling lights. Granted, the store bought, manufactured trees, are often much easier to set up, decorate, care for, and in the end clean up, but you just can’t beat the aroma of a real tree to ring in the season.
If a real tree isn’t a good fit for your home, you can still enjoy the smell by simply adding a wreath or some other seasonal arrangement made of the real pine branches and other assorted festive plants.
Christmas trees aren’t the only greenery making its way inside this time of year. Boughs of holly can add a splash of color to any holiday decoration with its deep green leaves and bright red berries.
Holly has been a symbol of merry making in English stories and poetry for centuries. This is almost certainly due to its ability to hold on to its colorful leaves and berries right though the cold and winter months providing a beautiful splash of color in an otherwise muted landscape.
Another staple of the Christmas season is mistletoe, yet another of the few plants remaining green throughout the winter. Mistletoe is often a favorite decoration for couples during the holidays, as they are expected to kiss any time they are caught beneath its boughs.
Mistletoe, though revered as decoration, is actually a parasitic plant that lives off of its host tree. It is often seen hanging in a ball from the top of an otherwise barren tree. Come to think of it, it looks a lot like a Christmas ball tucked high in the bare branches. Perhaps this is where the very idea of using it as holiday decoration came from.
I am sure there are a whole host of other outdoor decorations, but these are just a few of the more common ones. The great thing is that these are all found locally right outside our very own back door.
It might even be the start of a new holiday tradition if you want to take the family on an outdoor adventure to gather some decorations for the season. A drive along a high mountain ridge road is not only a great way to relax and enjoy the stunning winter weather we have had as of late, but it can also provide materials to spruce up (pun intended) your holiday decorations.
So when finishing off those holiday decorations be sure to add a little outdoors to your indoors. It might just help to ward off that cabin fever that will surely soon be creeping in as the weather starts its downhill run this winter.
Roger Wolfe writes about the outdoors for Civitas Media’s West Virginia newspapers.