The barn smelled of pine and eucalyptus. The fireplace had been burning for hours and it warmed the room with a soft glow of embers. The squash soup was bubbly warm and an afternoon of holiday baking filled the table with treats. Alena and Kelly arrived with more bits and pieces to add to our fresh cut greenery, and we were ready for our annual wreath-making workshop.

Within the next 30 minutes, the barn at Miramar Farms was filled with hugs and laughter and chatter. Thirty people arrived at the barn eager to get to work. Whether we knew it or not, we were continuing an ancient tradition that began in pre-Christian Rome. But what we cared most about on this lovely night in northern California was gathering together and capturing the holiday spirit of community, friendship, joy and generosity.

This is the third year in a row that Miramar Farms has hosted our annual wreath-making workshop. We love the sounds, the smells and the glow that envelops everyone in the room. For days before we cut greens from the property, hunt down pinecones and search out unique seedpods and dried peppers from the winter garden. And that is part of the joy—what can we create from this precious little plot of land? What’s possible with what the world offers us at our doorstep? So much.

The wreaths are amazing—each unique and delightful. At least half the group has never made a wreath before, but with some focused attention and a bit of loving direction, they each create a unique and stunning work-of-art. Within two hours, they are oo’ing and aw’ing at each other’s creation; the smiles are wide and the joy of the holiday season has captured us all.

As I sat down to write this post, I had so many topics running thru my head. Like nearly everyone I know, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the sad news from around the world—from Beirut to Paris to San Bernardino. While I try to be an informed and intelligent citizen on the issues, I know my best potential to create a compassionate community is local.

So here’s what I want to offer you this holiday season: Gather. Gather with friends and neighbors and families. Gather to share and celebrate; to learn and mourn and rejoice.

It’s not about the wreaths. You know that, right? It’s about being together, sharing of ourselves and our lives, wishing each other joy and goodwill. Praying for Peace on Earth.

Warmest Wishes for the Holidays, Jayne