I wanted to show you a lovely present given to me by one of my dear girlfriends, and which has brightened my home through the holidays and beyond.  Back in November she came up my front steps with a huge florist’s box all wrapped in craft paper and decorated with dried ferns.  To my mystified gaze she only answered, "It’s an experiment," with an eager twinkle in her eyes.  I lifted the lid and found, nestled amid generous sheets of tissue paper, the most exquisitely preserved ‘creeping ferns’–gorgeous long strands of them, coiled and couched tenderly on crisp white beds.  I could hardly believe my eyes, and, well-aware that our first frost–though late this year–was still long past, I looked up at her, still puzzling.   "Where did you get these?" I asked, dazedly.

They were from a trellis in her yard which she raided in advance of our first below-freezing weather for the season.  The loveliest strands she preserved in glycerin, her kind heart forseeing the beauty they would lend to my holiday decorations.  According to her recipe, she mixed one part glycerin to two parts water, soaking them thoroughly before spreading them to dry in the autumn sunshine and then packing them so carefully–such a beautiful gift in every way!

I turned back the lid with bated breath a few weeks later, well into my Christmas decorating.  I lifted them out and gasped again at their beauty, and at the loving friendship that prompted such a gesture.  Delicate-looking, yet strong and pliable, I draped them with abandon around my chandelier and the candleabra on the table below, then stood back to admire.  I simply could not believe how lovely it was–and is yet.  For unlike all of my other beloved Christmas decorations, these shall stay in place until they deem themselves ready to go and begin to fall to pieces.  Two months after the initial ‘experiement’ they still have a freshness about them, though they have just begun to lose a bit of their color.  It makes me happy just to look at that touch of sylvan wildness in my otherwise quite civilized dining room.  And to think of the possibilities!  I can’t wait to perform similar experiments on some of my dear flowers and greenery come Spring.  I promise to give a full report on how they turn out!   

Oh, thank You, Lord, for such loving and artistic friends!