the Christmas cactus

Darlene bought this cactus sometime in the late 1990s – It could be 20 years old now. We lived in Palisade, CO then and it began life with us in a sunny southern window on East Orchard Mesa above the Colorado River. It flourished there and made big blooms near Christmas time each year. We moved it with us to Pagosa Springs in 2000 and it lived in 6 different homes those eight years and we took it along when we moved to South Carolina where it lived in 3 different homes, and now it sits in a west facing window in our sunroom along with my office desks and the hot tub in sunny New Mexico.

I’m calling this cactus a survivor for putting up with our moving it around all these years. It hasn’t flourished in every house we’ve lived in – it has bloomed every year, if I remember correctly, but in some of the houses only a little. At some of the houses the leaves or branches (the green part – not sure what you call it on a cactus) lose their luster and fullness. It is like it is just hanging on – getting by, but not at all happy about things. It loved the house on Fish Cove and the one on the lake in Pagosa, but not so much the others. It bloomed profusely in the little rental house in Central, SC, but the 4 years in Easley it did little more than survive. It is really liking its spot and its window here in New Mexico. In the 4 months, the branches have thickened and gotten longer and it’s turned a dark, healthy looking green. You can see it is making lots of big, pretty, pink blooms. I hope it lives another 20 years, and that it can always be in a place that it loves.

I suppose we are like the Christmas cactus in some ways. There are times and circumstances where we flourish – then there are other times we just kind of hang on. The cactus doesn’t have much choice in the matter – it must sit on the stand in the place I put it. It can’t improve its fortune by taking its own measure and by making the changes it needs to grow and prosper. We on the other hand are blessed – aren’t we? – our destiny is our own. If I’m not flourishing today, tomorrow can be lived with a change – and change can be added upon change – until I’m in just the right window on just the right stand – in just the right circumstances to make healthy, dark, green branches and beautiful, big, pink blooms.

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