Whitney Blog

The Fragrance of Christmas!

“What’s that smell?”

It’s a typical question you ask when several boys are gathered in close quarters. But in this case, it’s not what you think.

It was actually the smell of balsam fir tips that I detected on the hands of my cousin, Bobby, as we were wrestling during Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ house in 1974. I had no idea what “tips” were, or at least the kind he was talking about. He proceeded to explain that he made money breaking branches from balsam fir trees and selling them to Flo, owner of Flo’s Wreaths in Marshfield, Maine.

Questions abound when you are a young lad.

“You get paid for that?” I said. To which my cousin replied in the affirmative.

My 8-year old brain started spinning.

Balsam tips get money…

Money gets candy!

Since my mother wouldn't buy me candy, I determined that this was the perfect solution to my candy crisis.

So I went home, grabbed a sandwich bag, climbed a spruce tree and started picking the needles off the spruce trees. Once I had filled the bag, I asked my mom take me to Flo’s so that I could sell my “tips.”

Upon arrival at Flo’s, I proudly held up my bag full of spruce needles and declared, “I have some tips to sell!”

She laughed hard and loud and said, “That's not what I'm looking for young man. But come with me and I'll show you.”

Flo led me into the tip shed where the smell, that smell of fresh balsam, overwhelmed my senses. I surveyed the heaps and mounds of tips, the real tips Flo used to make Christmas wreaths. They were not needles, but shorter branches stacked neatly all around the room. I could hear a repetitive knocking sound. More questions.

“What's was that?” I asked to Flo.

“It's the wreath room. Come with me and I’ll show you.”

She opened the door where I saw several women working at tables, snapping the tips into decorative little bunches and wrapping them with wire around a ring to create Christmas wreaths. Flo unknowingly had opened the door to my world. And I knew right then that this is what I wanted to do. (You can hear me tell this story here

As I reflect back, Flo patiently took the time to explain her craft to this young, inquisitive boy. She did not view me as a nuisance, but kindly introduced me to the process of making wreaths. Neither of us knew at the time, but these were the first steps down my career path and building a business known as Whitney Wreath. I started as a boy simply wanting to earn money for candy. But now it’s a source of livelihood and joy.

Every year when the weather turns cold and the holidays approach, that smell takes me back. It brings me a sense of happiness and anticipation of the coming festivities and memories we will make together in our close-knit Maine community and in our family.

Do you want to enjoy that smell too? Have a Maine-made Christmas wreath shipped to your door by ordering from our online store.

Here’s to making memories this Christmas season!

David Whitney
CEO, Whitney Wreath

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