The Christmas cactus I have in front of my living room bay window began blooming in mid-December, right in time for the holidays.
Magic can happen outside of Christmas, as this youngster learned 15 years ago.
CARLA ALLEN PHOTO
Every time I look at this plant I think of the day, 15 years ago, when my son presented it to me as a slip in a styrofoam cup from kindergarten.
It's grown 100 times its original size and now blooms with magenta flowers over several weeks.
Chas was connected to the ground and growing things before he was even born. He arrived after seven years of trying to conceive and two miscarriages. Our joy was shared and applauded by all who visited the nursery during my pregnancy.
Sometimes I'd just lay on the grass on my back that summer, feeling him kicking impatiently to be out and exploring.
Before he could walk, he travelled about the property in a baby carrier on my back, gently tugging at my hair as I dug up roots and sat for hours potting up the perennials.
At the farmers' market on Saturdays, I'd lay him down for a nap on a foam pad beneath my covered table while I sold herbal jellies, potted plants and potpourri.
His world was a magical place, full of pollywogs and snakes, hummingbird days and a giant, shaggy four-legged friend that grew even faster than he did.
One of my favorite memories of him as a child concerns a money plant that self-seeded beneath his playset. Also known as the silver dollar plant (Lunaria) this biannual has purple flowers that turn into silvery, coin-shaped seed cases that make wonderful dried arrangements.
I brought six-year-old Chas over to the plant and told him to be careful not to step on it because eventually, the flowers would turn into coins: dimes, quarters, maybe even a loonie or toonie that he might find buried around its base. He began checking it every day.
"Mom! Mom! I found two quarters underneath the money plant!" he shouted out a few weeks later.
Later in the season an older visitor insisted on visiting the plant with Chas. His hand slipped from his pocket and fumbled in the sand.
"Lookie here, I found a loonie for you," he said. The two of them dug for a while longer and “found” three more quarters.
Christmas is a time for loved ones and memories, both silver and golden. May each of you have many in the coming days and need another hand in order to count all of the blessings in your life.