A few years ago, I took over the tradition of making the evergreen blanket for my grandparents’ grave when my mother was no longer able to do it. I loved the idea of taking some of Albert and Rose Behnke’s favorite types of evergreens and creating something to keep them warm.
Today, as I made one to take to the cemetery, a few folks asked about the whole idea of a grave blanket and where it came from. Thank goodness for Google! From what I could find out, the tradition started in the Upper Midwest when people from Scandinavia settled in that area. The idea is to keep your loved ones warm and protected from the outside elements. Because of the cold, of course, fresh flowers would not last–so they started using evergreen boughs along with other natural things, like pine cones. Add a beautiful bow and it really is a nice touch to complement the beautiful wreaths that are hanging around the headstones.
While looking online, I saw that what I make is nothing like what I see others make. Mine is quite simple and very easy to tie together with florist wire. If you want to make one, make sure your cemetery allows it and also get plenty of tent stakes to hold it in place so the cold winds of Winter do not blow it away.
I guess this has become my family tradition since I took it over from my mother. I really do enjoy taking the blanket to their grave, where I can sit down on their big, old rock (they have a rock instead of a headstone) and chat for a while. I love to tell them how everyone is doing and how the nursery is going. I hope to continue this tradition for many years to come; it’s a nice way to keep the memories of my grandparents alive at Christmas.
by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President