I bought a deeply unattractive wreath the other day. Matt and I were at the farmer’s market buying vegetables and salmon and we came across a wreath maker. She had long brown hair, a huge smile and was weaving twigs and ribbon together. Then I noticed the wreath dangling on a piece of raffia above her head. It was small and unassuming: leaves and branches wound around a thin circular wire. As I don’t have a Christmas tree (although I have twinkle lights wrapped around everything in the courtyard that could be wrapped around), I decided that a minimal wreath would be lovely on our door. Matt agreed. And so we brought it home, and in the ride from the market to our front door, most of the leaves and all the dried flowers fell off. We were left with a wire with a few green sprigs hanging off in odd angles. I like unusual things, but this went beyond the unusual into without-a-doubt unattractive.
So, the next week—a few days ago--I trundled off to the farmer’s market, with my questionable wreath in tow. My plan was to speak to the brown haired wreath maker and ask her to, um, make it look more attractive and festive. She wasn’t there, however. Another woman was sitting in her place and when I showed her my poor wire with a few leaves sticking from it, she said, “Oh, let me work on it. It will give me a project. Something to do in this morning.” I said thank you and that’s great, and that I’d come back soon.
By the time I arrived back at the erstwhile wreath stand, two women were weaving leaves around the wire, cutting raffia from which to hang it, taking twigs and bending them so that there was a little sculpture on the top of the wire. They were laughing and talking about the smell of the greenery.
Soon we were having a party the way women do when we get together. We were talking about the sun and the warmth outside and the people in Los Angeles we knew who had lost their homes. We were talking about children and grandchildren and my new book and the red balloons that the Santa was giving out at the market. Also, the dog in a red coat and the child who sat on Santa’s lap and couldn’t stop crying. I was so taken with the loveliness of the gathering that I didn’t notice that the wreath, when they were through, was still so very odd and slightly unattractive—but in a good way.
I hung it on my door and in the last few days, since the wreath party at the market, a few people have asked why a half-wreath that is crooked is hanging on my door. I tell them it is imperfect like the rest of us. I tell them that when I look at it, I feel the generosity that went into its making. And that in the end, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.
My mother used to say (about conversations between friends): it’s not the words, it’s the music that matters. And that’s how I feel when I look at the crooked odd wreath on my door. It’s not the shape of it, it’s the generosity that made it. It’s not the form, it’s the love that wove it together—it’s my perfectly imperfect wreath. My perfectly imperfect body. My imperfect life. It’s the ability, the willingness to take in the goodness of what’s here, despite its oddness and the leaves that continue to fall off with each passing day. The little prince (from the book The Little Prince) was right all along: What is essential is invisible to the eye…