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Pine Cone Collection Brings Beauty, Memories To Home

Fri., Dec. 5, 1997, midnight

Every time I sling open my closet doors and come face to face with the plastic bags of pine cones that hog the space on the floor where my shoes should be, I swear I’m going to ditch the puppies. But I simply can’t do it. Those pine cones have become an important part of my Christmas decorating.

Pine cones, I’ve come to realize, are one of the most versatile of holiday decorating materials.

These pine cones, though, go a step further. Each of them has a special meaning. Over the years, on trips or just walking through the neighborhood, I’ve put together a collection of the spiny little devils that brings warm memories flooding back each early December as I pull them out of their bags and transform them into what I think are fairly crafty decorations.

I’ve got tiny little cones from the pines in the front of Mom and Dad’s cottage in Michigan. They are the same trees (much larger now) that my brother and I and the neighborhood kids used to spend hours under each summer playing Parcheesi and swigging Kool-Aid.

Those cones make the perfect filling for little glass bowls in the centers of two silver candelabras. I’ve touched the tips of the cones with white paint. Instant snow. My favorite. The kind I don’t have to shovel. Topped with red feather cardinals, they make an elegant, easy-to-do little display.

Much larger cones from Big Bear remind me that I am one sorry cross-country skier. But the day wasn’t an entire disaster. The cones I collected between spills look wonderful piled in a tall basket tied with a large red ribbon on my fireplace hearth.

Four years ago, I started using an artificial tree. The thing is scary, it looks so real. To push reality over the top, I attached pine cones I gathered to the boughs with filament wire.

The cones bring flashbacks of the crisp fall Saturday mornings we used to head out to the high school field in town to see my pint-size nephews play touch football. They aren’t so pint-size now, and the memories have grown in the same proportion.

Trips to the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, N.C., also have a place in my cone Christmases. Do you have any idea what it’s like being faced with millions of square feet of furniture and trying to figure out what exactly is going on? I certainly didn’t the first time out.

But I coped. And I also found a few seconds to collect pine cones from the yard of my host. This season, I’m going to bring them back to life by stringing them on ribbon to make a garland for my fireplace mantel - a Christmas high point, any way you look at it.

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