Heart-to-Heart with a Poinsettia

Ms. Poinsettia, you certainly look better than I do. Lush, with showy red blooms, you almost upstage the Christmas tree.

Me? I might wow observers, but for different reasons: my ratty bathrobe and jammies. What else would you expect of a grandma writer juggling Christmas?

What’s that? Your Creator made you to be strictly decorative?

I told my husband a similar story. A little tired of my ratty bathrobe, he didn’t think so.

However, when Dr. Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, met your ancestors in 1828, he brought several home. Before long, your forbearers became wildly popular.

Poinsie, how did you become an important floral symbol of Christmas? Not that the Bethlehem stable was landscaped with holly or mistletoe. Jesus probably didn’t even have a Christmas tree.

Does it make sense, though, that Americans celebrate a winter holiday with a tropical plant that hates the cold more than Midwestern snowbirds? If you had your choice, Poinsie, would you have stayed in Mexico, where you and your kin reach tree size?

I thought so. For a long time, you’ve lived out of your comfort zone. Still, you strut your colorful stuff every Christmas and brighten the holiday for us all.

Until one minute after midnight, December 26, when you wilt a little. A lot, actually.

Admittedly, we all wilt, and wrinkles eventually find us. But after one grand entrance during Christmas, you begin making demands. If I cherish any notion that you will bloom again, the light must be just so. The temperatures must be just so. At night, you like to be moved to a cooler area. I must ensure your beauty sleep in complete darkness from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. from October through December. Even headlights shining through shades can disturb your blooming.

You do remember, don’t you, Poinsie, why I keep pet plants instead of pet animals? Let me remind you: because plants don’t bark or lick. And they’re easier to care for.

I used to coddle fussy poinsettias. I lined windows with scraggly, leaf-shedding plants. I watered and fed. I plucked. I pampered. I encouraged.

But they wilted all the more

Finally, I tossed them all out behind the garage. Every. Single. One.

Now don’t you think you could act a little less fussy?

What do you mean, I could be less demanding, too? I don’t ask for much. Just my favorite snowman coffee mug with my brand of coffee. My solo bathroom. My schedule. My music. My hot-food fetish fulfilled, though I have to re-microwave my plate three times during supper.

Poinsie, you’re saying I should demand less?

And it wouldn’t hurt if I lost the ratty bathrobe, too?

Now, you’re just meddling. Flowers should be seen and not heard.


Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you had a heart-to-heart with a plant lately? Did it mess with your life, too?

6 thoughts on “Heart-to-Heart with a Poinsettia

  1. Janese oglesbee

    Good morning, l really, really enjoyed reading this article. I got a poinsetta from church last year. I have babyed it all year long. So proud it’s still living. I put a lot of effort in trying to keep it happy and healthy. It’s surviving. What did the ladies from church get gifted with,??.. that right another poinsetta. Life is to short and to busy for another year of pampering poinsetta. So good luck, have a healthy year. Hope you two can survive without pampering. God bless you poinsetta, and good luck.

    1. rachael Post author

      Hahaha, Janese, I received two this year. Both have dropped a few leaves just to keep me guessing, but still look fairly intact. We’ll see if they survive until Easter. Or maybe New Year’s! Do I have it right that you gave yours away? Brilliant move! But given my history with poinsettias, no one will want these two by next Christmas!

      Hope your day is sunny, and a Happy New Year to you and Dad. Hugs!

  2. Doris Kelly

    I didn’t get one this year! Hooray!
    BUT it does remind me of a Christmas in 1976. 😀 I brought Susana home from the hospital on the 24th of Dec. but Jeremy got angry with me when he saw her. He cried and yelled at me,”Take her back! Take this one back. It’s the wrong baby! I wanted the chocolate one!” We tried to tell him that pink mommies and Daddies had pink babies and brown mommies and daddies had brown babies but he wouldn’t listen. He had fallen in love with a little brown infant at the doctor’s office because I had said, “Mommy is going to have a little baby ‘just like this one’. ” And he remembered and was holding me to my words. After a while he settled down and got very quiet. I was suspicious and when I checked on him he had taken a pair of scissors and cut every flower off my poinsettias. That taught me to watch my words closely –especially to a three-yr-old.

    1. rachael Post author

      Hahahaha! At least, he trimmed your poinsettias rather than your daughter’s hair! Now I’ll think of Jeremy every time I see poinsettias 🙂

      Reminds me of when my elder daughter refused to mark her first-grade registration card’s blank indicating race with a W for “white,” as she and I had discussed the fact that we were really pinky-beige. Kids keep us thinking!

      Hope you and your family have a fun, blessed New Year!

  3. Angie Arndt

    I can kill a poinsettia, a pansy, and even an African violet, but for some crazy reason orchids usually thrive here. (Not the fancy corsage orchids that we wore to prom, but the perfectly plain, “moth orchid.”) Whether it’s the North-facing window or proximity of the shower, they love our bathroom and if I can remember to properly water and fertilize them, they’ll bloom twice a year for me. However, for some reason, they’re not happy right now. Two are green-ish, but two are definitely gray and one is just plain non-recoverable brown. I think my orchids and I need more monotony and far less stress in the New Year. Praying your New Year will be full of flowers and love, Rachel!

    1. rachael Post author

      Angie, You must be a gardening ninja–orchids?! I am so impressed! Maybe it’s good that plants express their disgust with us only through nonverbal actions rather than words, barks, or hisses. Otherwise, we’d really get an earful 🙂 May the Lord bring you and your orchids a gentle New Year full of growth and fragrance. Blessings, sweet friend!


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