SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING COLUMN Week of December 21, 2015
My Christmas cactus is blooming. It always amazes me in the cycle of life that a plant knows when to bloom every year.
My Christmas cactus has a history. It was part of my life for as long as I can remember, first at my Grandma Krock’s and then at my mother’s home. This cactus has lived longer than my years.
My mother put the cactus outside in the summer so it could enjoy the warmth of the sun and the summer days. When fall arrived the cactus was put in the dark basement and brought upstairs in November. Every year the cactus with its pink blooms sat beside the Christmas tree at my grandmother’s and then my mother’s home.
In my mother’s later years, instead of a Christmas tree, the large cactus was used as her tree and she would adorn it with small bows, bringing more of the season to the cactus, already beautiful blooming blossoms. The living cactus was an important part of her life.
My mom had a green thumb. I have a brown thumb. When my mom entered the nursing home it was February. I forgot about the cactus in her basement for many, many months. I ignored the living plant in her home. A living entity needs love and care to survive and this cactus, after months of neglect, showed its will to live. When I found it, a few leaves were struggling to survive.
I mourned that I had let die something that obviously represented life in our family and had meaning to my mother. It wasn’t just a Christmas cactus, but always a part of my mother’s life from the time she was small. It was rooted in our tradition and it seemed that with my mother’s life failing, I was losing the tradition or our Christmas cactus along with my mother. The Christmas cactus held tradition and memories.
As much as many of us fight to live, my mom’s Christmas cactus did too. In spite of my brown thumb, the Christmas cactus again started to grow leaves after my mother died. The beautiful cactus decided to bloom once again at Christmas time. I give it no special treatment except to smile at it each day. It doesn’t see the dark basement and it doesn’t change its spot on the windowsill, yet it lives, blooms and blossoms. I have to believe my mother is tending it from above.
For me, as I view my beautiful old Christmas cactus this season, I feel hope. Once again it has grown big and strong and has weathered the storms of neglect. I feel the glowing memories in my heart of the many years of family Christmases, of my youth, of what seems like simpler times and my heart stirs with love at the memories. Its beauty, a reminder that there is always new growth in life if we nurture and care for the gifts of life seen and unseen that we have been given. Out of struggle for survival, comes growth.
My wish for you this Christmas is peace and love in the simple things of the season and in the recesses of your hearts. My wish for you is a glimmer of hope and new growth through your struggles throughout the year. May you bloom where you are planted, watered often with encouragement and love, and may your roots be strong to survive the dry, desert moments of your life. May you blossom and bloom this Christmas season.