Friday, December 17, 2021

Christmas Quotes: The Christmas Cactus

Last year I read and loved this book. It was one of my favourite reads of 2020. This year I have read two more of his books and now look forward to reading his whole backlist.

"You're still coming over for Christmas, right?" Abby asks. "I'm roasting a turkey with all the fixings, and we're going to bake cookies."

"You're decorating," Lily says, pointing at me, "and I'm eating."

I laugh. "That's a good plan."

Everyone leaves with a big hug, and I shut the door.

As soon as they are out the front gate, I return to life. I check my watch and then rush up the stairs and head to the attic, pulling out boxes of heirloom ornaments. I blow dust off the tops of the boxes.

Handle with care! is written in my mom's handwriting.

"You haven't seen the light of day for years," I say. "It's time."

I take box after box down to the tree, make some tea and turn on the TV just as the Charlie Brown Christmas special begins. It is the show I've watched for decades, the only thing that made me feel like I had a family again.

Until this year.

I pull out my grandma's and mom's vintage glass ornaments in bright colors and begin to hang them from the branches, watching Charlie Brown as I go.

"I never thought it was such a bad little tree," Linus is saying. "It's not so bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love."

I stop and look at my tree, and my heart fills with joy. I sit on my couch, sip my tea and stare at my tree, remembering Christmases past. I think of spending Christmas Day with Abby and her family.

"It's not what's under the Christmas tree that matters but who's around it."

"You're right, Charlie Brown," I say, staring at the TV.

I head to the kitchen and set my cup in the sink. The sky has cleared, the wind calmed adn the stars are bright. I can see the moon shimmer off the lake.

I have the best water view in Michigan now, I think.

Moonlight illuminates my Christmas cactus, and I smile.

"You will finally have some company, Pretty Boy," I say.

I move the cactus underneath the tree, lie down on the couch and pull a blanket over my aching body.

I fall asleep on the courch in front of the tree, just like I did as a girl.

When I wake, hours later, I cannot believe my eyes. In fact, I blink - once, twice - rub my eyes with my fingers and then reach for my glasses.

My Christmas cactus is in full bloom, its prickly green arms weighted down with beautiful red blooms.

I jump up and do a little jig around the tree.

"You were right, Grandma! You were right!"

I lean down and touch a bloom on the cactus. "I told you!" I can hear it say in my grandma's voice. "I told you!"