Houseplant Tales, Part IV – The Christmas Spirit

I’m getting lazier by the year when it comes to decking the halls. My four-foot tall, fake Christmas tree lies stuffed in a corner of my apartment’s storage unit, inaccessible due to the giant couch also taking (vertical) residence there. Same can be said for most of my ornaments.

Thankfully, my year-round greenery steps in for the save every year and helps me eke by with just enough festive presentation to prevent me looking like a Grinch. Here are the champions of the season:

TWO Christmas cacti, you exclaim? Isn’t having more than one of the same plant a bit of a cheat for a houseplant mama? To which my response would be: why are you trying to put any kind of rule or reason on this already-mad obsession?

Besides, their flowers are different colors. It’s totally fine.

The littler one is named “Dickens”, which of course is a reference to the great writer of “A Christmas Carol” (among other excellent works that I definitely don’t love with an unhealthy passion). The name has a double-bonus, since it also serves in my ongoing rivalry with the friend who bought the cactus for me. (Hiiii, Haley. DICKENS IS STILL BETTER THAN SHAKESPEARE!)

The large cactus’s name is “Liszt”, and you’ll likely only know that reference if you’re familiar with this guy’s work.

(Wow, I have a lot of boy plants in my abode. I wonder what that says about me…)

I could go from here into some deep allegory about how the cacti represent life and color in the coldest, bleakest season, but…I’m out of deep juice for the month. Why don’t y’all go enjoy your families around your own Christmas greenery this weekend, huh?

Have a merry one, all.

The Christmas Miracle


Eric Metaxas, in his book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life, describes a miracle as “when something outside time and space enters time and space, whether just to…poke at us briefly, or to come in and dwell among us for three decades.”

Something about this time of year makes society think more about miracles. At my library alone, there are over 70 items with the words “Christmas” and “miracle” somewhere in their title or description. There’s of course Miracle on 34th Street, a festive picture book titled A Christmas Spider’s Miracle, and Thomas Kinkade’s on-the-nose DVD release – Christmas Miracle. No beating around the bush on that one.

Of course, this holiday passion for the miraculous is very likely rooted in the original “Christmas” miracle we now celebrate every December 25th: when an omnipotence and omniscience far beyond our comprehension stepped into the world with a mission of hope.

Me personally, I’m not sure I’ve experienced a miracle. I believe I’ve been protected from harm in several instances, but a full on miracle? Visions of angels, sudden and incomprehensible healing, come-to-Jesus moments? I’ve lived a fairly steady (if medically interesting) life of faith. Complete with all the ups and downs.

The songs and lights and nativities have got me thinking, though: even if I never experience the miraculous in my own life, wouldn’t the miracle of “God with us” be enough? We seek quick fixes for life, microwave solutions for slow-cooker problems. We want the easy out when difficulties loom. Isn’t that the appeal of miracles?

But Jesus stepped into time. He aged and suffered for us to bring a lasting fix for every hurt and sickness. The feel-good books and movies of the season could never supply something so whole. Our brief difficulties – so brief, in the light of where our souls belong – may not end in this life, but one thing is guaranteed: Jesus among us has given meaning to what we endure.

Even true miracles, though they show us the power and character of God, can’t save us in and of themselves. Only a holy babe, born in lowly status, could fulfill that sort of promise.

Merry, miraculous Christmas, everyone.