The Christmas Wreath
No one is exactly sure when this custom began, but memories go back to at least the mid-1960's when it's believed that Frank Tuttle saw a wreath on a church somewhere and began the tradition of building and hanging our lovely Christmas wreath. Over time the tradition has been picked up and sustained by the Bertwell and Buck families. First helping Frank and then taking on the entire process.
Sam Bertwell, Barbara and Elaine's father, headed up the project for years. He would cut and gather greens from around their yard on Chestnut Street. Elaine recalls how he would begin checking the evergreens in the early fall, eyeing the best ones for the wreath, as it often takes an entire tree to construct it. Over the years Christmas trees have been bought and planted around the yard just for the wreath. After Thanksgiving and just before the Advent season, the greens would be gathered and transported to the church where the wreath would be created on the frame.
The same six foot plywood frame built by Frank Tuttle in the 1960's is still used today. The frame is two pieces of plywood hinged in the middle to create a circle and there are hundreds of circles drilled around the frame. The only improvement over the past 50 years occurred in the 1990's when it was decided to paint the frame green.
The assembly process at the church is a family affair where the frame is placed on chairs or sawhorses. Four generations often help. Those more experienced and less nimble place the greens on the frame and feed wires through the many holes. Those younger and more agile take on the role to slide under the frame and are responsible for tying off the wires and fastening the greens.
After the greens are attached, a large red bow is added. Special care is taken to make sure it's wired properly to avoid sagging in the rain or ice.
Once completed, the wreath is hoisted by rope and ladder up to the large hook above the front door. This typically brings on the annual discussion of whether the weather is better or worse than last year. For many years Sam climbed the ladder to put the wreath on the hook. This role was later passed on to his grandson, James Buck and to his great-grandsons, Scott, Greg, and Bryant Buck and their families.
There have been occasions when people driving by would take the time to stop and come into the church to thank us and express their joy in seeing the wreath year after year. Beautiful during the day, it is also a lovely sight at night with the lights shining on it.
Sam passed away in 2000, but his family including his daughters, grandson, great grandsons and great-great grandchildren continue to grace our church with the wreath at Christmas time.
And so the tradition that Frank Tuttle and Sam Bertwell began is carried on and they have our eternal gratitude and thanks for continuing such a lovely custom.