The season of holidays
By Julie Huke Klock
Originally posted Nov. 15, 2013, at Water Wings. Republished with permission of the author.
My Christmas cactus is in full bloom -- a bit ahead of schedule but happily reminding me that the season of holidays is upon us.
I am not a good plant person so the fact that this cactus has survived in spite of me, and bloomed for a second year, gives me great joy. It's an old plant, one that my mother has tended for many years.
As I think about hope and the coming holidays, and the impact they have on your children and your families, I am struck by my cactus and how perfectly it captures so many seasonal themes: waiting, hoping, joy, new life, change of seasons, gift.
The first buds will appear as the days shorten and the nights lengthen. You'll first see tiny dots of color on the ends of the plant. You may not even be positive they are buds for several days. And even when you are certain, it will be hard to believe they can possibly produce the large flowers the plant will eventually sport. Can you see that tiny spot of pink right in the center of the photo? That bud is probably two weeks from the full bloom you see just to the left of it.
Children will be fascinated to watch it change. And the change is visible almost daily. In many ways it is like waiting for a child to be born. Great anticipation, coupled with the knowledge that there is nothing to be done to hasten or slow the progress. It has its own life, its own schedule. It is outside of your control, yet you can love it, tend it, watch it and water it, and see it change almost before your very eyes. It is exciting to watch and wait.
Eventually the bud will look like the one in the center of this photo. It is still so filled with potential: We know that the bud in the center will eventually become the blossom on the left, but we can also recognize its beauty in the moment. If all you ever got to see was the tightly furled bud, the contrast of the pink and green would still be a thing of beauty. Unique. No two blossoms are ever the same.
So I commend the Christmas cactus to you as a tool for teaching yourself and your children the rhythms of life, for teaching hope. It can slow life down to a natural pace. It can remind us that the true joys of this season are all tied up in that first gift of the Child. It adds a time of hope to our seasons. Hope that combines waiting with faith. There is no instant gratification. It is not the stuff of department store Santas who make promises they aren't bound to keep. Rather, it is the expectation that change will come and faith that what will come will be good.