When I was a little kid (see picture below, awwwww), my family had a great tradition. Every fall my brother and I would wander around the countryside and collect interesting or beautiful seed-pods, leaves, rocks, nuts, pine-cones, lichen, feathers, and whatever else we could find that caught our eye. My mom made us a special drawer in the living room hutch, and every day our collection would grow.
Suddenly (to us), fall would turn into winter, and snow would be on the ground. Of course we immediately forgot about all of our beloved fall treasures in favor of snowmen and sleds. But in early December, my mom would bring out a big piece of cardboard, some staples, some glue, and a giant beeswax candle. She would gather us together and we would comb through our fall collection. We assembled a huge centerpiece with all the nuts and berries and seedpods of fall, and the beeswax candle would be in the middle of it all. And every night, before we kids went off to bed, everyone in the family would gather around the lit candle, in the dark, with a mishmash of cymbals and xylophones and toy pianos, and we would sing Christmas carols for hours. This is the childhood memory I prize most. To this day, beeswax is my favorite smell, and I still compulsively pocket every beautiful winged pod or perfect red-orange leaf I come across. In celebration of Christmas tomorrow, here are a few beautiful fall- and winter- centerpieces.