Christmas 2006: I buy a gorgeous red poinsettia plant. I’ve never had one. They were definitely a luxury we did without growing up. I always thought they were so festive, and $5 at Safeway seems like something I can swing. I get way, way more than $5 worth of joy from it.
January 2007: The Christmas decorations come down. The fake tree goes back in its box. I start to throw the poinsettia away. I realize that would be a silly waste of a perfectly good plant. Plus, I want to see how long these things can actually last. (I guess I had kind of thought it would disappear in a poof of mysterious smoke after its Christmas usefulness was gone.)
February 2007: The last of the red leaves falls off. They are replaced by luscious new dark green ones.
July 2007: Still going. We go away on vacation. I instruct husband to water it, as he’s going home a week earlier than I am. He forgets/gets distracted/doesn’t give a rat’s ass. I come home to a decrepit little green stalk, draped in shriveled leaves. I think that we had a good run, and respectfully mourn its passing. For some reason, I water it one last time, just to see what happens.
August 2007: The little bugger is back, and badder than ever.
November 2007: I take mental inventory of Christmas décor. I look to the mantel, and last year’s poinsettia. It is green. Again, I think I assumed that it would turn red in that same, mysterious poof of smoke. I hope for a Christmas miracle, then get distracted.
December 2007: I do a little research on the internet, to see if it is even possible that this little plant will turn red again. Turns out, I should have been putting it in the dark for at least 8 hours a day, starting in October. I had no idea that these plants were so contrived. Locked away, shocked into color by neglect and artifice. I felt bad for all my little poinsettia must have gone through before it got to my house.
I generally don’t have a problem with denying the natural order. I don’t eat organically. I shave my armpits. I use artificial sweeteners. I eat veal. But for some reason, the plucky, can-do spirit of this little plant inspires me.
You can stay green, my leafy friend. Just be yourself.