Awreatha- that became my mom's nickname around town as her greenery "hobby" transformed into a business, whether she intended for it to or not. After many holiday seasons of admiring the beautiful quality and freshness of the greenery that adorned our home during the holidays, several of our neighbors in Nashville asked my mom if she would bring them wreaths and garlands from North Carolina upon our return from Thanksgiving. What began nearly 20 years ago as bringing a few items back for friends in the back of our 1994 Suburban, grew into a business requiring two of Ryder's largest trucks to deliver our wreaths, garlands and trees to our Gracious Garlands customers. Gracious Garlands became a part of many Nashvillian's Christmas traditions and spread beauty to doorsteps, both tangibly and symbolically; however, it brought no home greater joy than it did ours on Chancery Lane.
I talk about GG as if it is something of the past, which thankfully, contrary to what my parents expected when they moved to North Carolina, it is not! Three years ago, when my parents moved out of our home we lived in for what was my whole life, they assumed Gracious Garlands would fade away as many Christmas traditions do because we no longer had a place to run the seasonal business. Unbeknownst to them, I was heartbroken. Even though Pick-Up Day often fell on my Birthday and took my place of front and center, I always enjoyed when it was GG time. Gracious Garlands meant Birthday season (it seems 90% of my friends have December Birthdays), Christmas around the corner, Amy Grant Albums on repeat, potential snow days, fudge, Christmas lights, and our entire neighborhood smelling like a Christmas tree because of the amount of fresh greens piled in our backyard. Most importantly, Gracious Garlands brought all of those faces I hold dear in my heart to our home to pick up their order and I did not want that guaranteed yearly reunion taken from me.
So, when some of our best friends offered to host GG at their house, I was more than enthusiastic and deepened my involvement with the business. The first year we ran GG from this new location I was finishing up nursing school at Belmont which tremendously aided my efforts to keep GG afloat. Living in Nashville is typically are rarity for me, so the irony of the timing was sublime. Showing my mom my dedication to the life of the business really gave her the ardor she needed to continue on with GG.
This year I've created our website www.graciousgarlands.com, learned web and graphic design, and been emotionally moved by devastating current events to connect GG to something bigger than itself. I hoped to align GG with an organization whose message is loving others above all else and was lead to the perfect partnership with Thistle Farms. My motivation to keep Gracious Garlands in business and expand our was driven by all that I've mentioned thus far; however, the most meaningful reason is the time GG provides me with Awreatha.
My mom and I now have an annual 10 day, mandatory meeting that involves constant laughter, many "splashes" of wine, coffee, 20 numb fingers from working in the cold, even more coffee, quality time with friends who we call family and eats from all our favorite Nashville spots. We are two peas in a pod that luckily bring different strengths to the GG team. I am grateful for the memories GG has meant to me over the past 20 years, but I am even more excited for the years to come.
Needless to say, I cannot wait until it's time for another Tennessee Christmas!