It’s too late. There’s no time to finish a popcorn and cranberry garland now.

It’s too late. There’s no time to finish a popcorn and cranberry garland now.

Oh sure, you could start one. But it wouldn’t be ready to drape along the boughs of this year’s tree before Valentine’s Day, let alone Christmas.

I began mine over a week ago and am finding it is taking more time than birthing a baby. At this point, I’m simply aiming for a garland long enough to dangle across the mantel for New Year’s. Of course, who would have anticipated needing months to create something so seemingly simple?

My Facebook friends, that’s who. Had I posted my grand idea on the social media network before I started my project, I would have known not to attempt it. At the very least, I would have purchased name-brand popcorn known for producing large, strong, puffy kernels with the hormone-supplemented ability to withstand the poke of a needle without falling apart.

Last year, we decided to resurrect the tradition of visiting a farm, selecting the perfect real tree for our home, having it assassinated, and then strapping it ruthlessly to our luggage rack. Upon arriving home last year, I felt the freshly slain vegetation deserved fancy new color-coordinated decorations.

Considering the nostalgic age of our home, I decided upon silver and white accessories. A giant bow topped the tree and strands of faux pearl garlands embraced it. Our puny, old artificial tree was situated on the second floor to once again proudly boast our decades-old ornament collection.

On our way home from the tree farm last month, my son adamantly declared he wanted to use our traditional ornament collection on this year’s real tree. He did not want to sit around another "granny tree" with white lights and pearl strands on Christmas Eve while the tree with the "good" ornaments sat alone, hidden on the upstairs landing.

We agreed with our son, but this created a new problem. The elementary school craft, milestone and gift ornaments happen to look more authentic when lit by colored, blinking lights, especially if the lights have eight blink settings. Therefore, the white lights we used with the silver and white decorations were left in their storage container. Hubby was sent out to purchase blinky lights.

Before long, we had a beautiful, majestic tree perched in the corner of our living room. It held upon its boughs memories dizzily illuminated by alternating red, blue, green and yellow bulbs. But it was still bare. It is a known fact that a Christmas tree is not truly decorated without either icicles or garland.

The trees of my childhood were bound with sparkly, puffy ropes of manufactured garland. Every year, my dad would string the lights, wait for my mom to help us with the ornaments, and then add the garland. One year, my mom tried to save Dad time by putting the garland up before he arrived home from work. This did not save time, as he now had to pull it all off and re-hang it "the right way."

My cousins were tinsel people. They had a tree covered in thousands of strands of glimmering, shiny icicles made of a magically thin, wispy foil substance. We now understand it was lead-based and extremely poisonous to children and pets, but it was so very pretty. I dreamed of one day having my own poisonously icicle-laden holiday tree.

For several years, when my children were little, I did purchase box upon box of the newly lead-free tinsel. I found out the first year, after three trips to the drugstore, that it takes roughly a case of the static-absorbing decoration to cover a modest size tree. And while those trees were pretty, I eventually tired of picking tinsel off furniture legs and the dryer lint screen throughout the year.

While tinsel can look pretty, I long ago became as adamant about not using the migratory strands of vacuum cleaner sabotaging silver as my child is now about not creating another "granny tree." And that is why I decided to create something homemade, sustainable, and cheap.

Imagining the fresh scent of cranberries swirled with the aroma of pine, I decided to make a popcorn and cranberry garland. How hard, I naively asked myself, could it be to string popped corn and cranberries with a sewing needle and fishing line?

I’m far from being known as anything resembling a patient soul. However, this task has certainly been helping me along my journey. A slow, deliberate pierce and slide is required to string popcorn without breaking it into bits of white crumbs.

After several hours of needlework while semi-watching White Christmas for inspiration, my garland was three feet long. Considering it took four boxes of blinking light strands to modestly cover our tree, I knew I had a long way to go.

Next year, I plan to delegate the garland task to Hubby. If he wants to encircle our tree with the manufactured sparkly stuff my dad used, he’ll have my blessing.


Micki Bare is a columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and the Courier-Tribune in Asheboro, N.C., and the author of Thurston T. Turtle children’s books. She and her family live in North Carolina. Her e-mail address is