Nothing brings back the old fashion Christmas of my youth more than the scent of Christmas trees. My brother and I would sell Christmas trees in the cold winters at dad's nursery on Atwood Ave. in Cranston. Sometimes our Sepe cousins would lend a hand and help with whatever had to be done. A quick run to the cash register would be rewarded with the warm comfort of the kerosene stove with orange peals wafting throughout the shack.
Our shack consisted of a few shelves for garden products with a glassed-in porch in the front that held Poinsettias. It was in the heated porch with a bench set up to make Christmas wreaths and, in later years, Christmas baskets and white birch candle holders.
Prior to making many of our own wreaths, we would buy wreaths from Sam Palumbo across from Governor Francis Farms at the Driftwood Nurseries on Warwick Ave. Sam did a land office business in both wholesale and retail. Hal and I would cut off broken branches from the frozen trees imported from Canada. Those rich aromatic spruce, firs and pine scents would explode when they hit the warm air of our little red shack.
Once we realized that our crafty work was selling, we started cutting up the runt trees for the decorations. We would add red dried ruskus and berries to the Christmas baskets and sometimes the wreaths.
In retrospect, I think those bitter cold days and nights helped temper a sense of humor for all of us. People were generally happy while shopping in those leaner days.
Here is our formula for a handy dandy wreath. Take a coat hanger and make it round with a pair of pliers. It will make an eight-inch round base with a hook or a 10-inch with the top of the hanger included in the roundtuit. It is so named for the person that will not do anything until they get a round to it.
Cut about 50 six- to seven-inch terminal sprigs from any evergreen. Blue Juniper cedar was my favorite. Tie six or eight branches together with thin florist wire. Be sure all ends are at the bottom. This should take about seven or eight bunches. Make enough to throw some away.
The bunches are now wired to the roundtuit with each sequential bunch covering the bottom ends of the previous wrapped bunch. These single-faced wreaths can be heavy depending on the type of tree. You can make a double-faced with a lesser amount needed for the back.
Lastly add a bow ribbon, some berries and pine or spruce cones. You can also add silver or red painted Creeping Jenny and berries for a little splash of color.
All wreaths last longer outdoors. They certainly smell better indoors. Do not put them between the storm and regular door unless you plan to have them up for only a few days.
Mort's book, "A Face Made for Radio", is available now for $14.95 per copy, including S&H. Mail check or money order to Whitehouse Productions, 484 Wellington Ave, Cranston, RI 02910.