Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Christmas in January

My Christmas cactus bloomed this year.

This is my only houseplant, and I'm fond of it because – in a way – it belonged to my grandmother who passed away in 1979. My aunt took the plant after my grandmother passed on, and when my parents visited my aunt many years later, my mother took some snippets of the cactus, brought them home, and potted them. She gave me one of the plants. It has bloomed without fail every Christmas since.

Last year, with all the chaos of our move right near Christmas, the cactus didn't bloom. In fact, I left it (after a thorough watering) in the sink of our rental house, essentially abandoned, when Don and I moved here to our new home. The rental house still wasn't completely emptied, and it wasn't until much later I was able to return and fetch everything out – including the cactus. I'm happy it survived, but it didn't bloom last year. (I couldn't blame it.)

But this year it bloomed. I'm taking it as a good sign. We're blooming too, in our new home.

The cactus wasn't the only one celebrating Christmas. This past weekend, Don and I celebrated Christmas by traveling to see Older Daughter at her apartment.

Before leaving, I wrapped some presents.

These were not only for Older Daughter, but also for Dallas and Susie, some beloved neighbors from our old home. We've spent every Christmas since moving to Idaho with these fine people, and it was good to continue the tradition.

These are the neighbors who lost their home last summer in a fast-moving wildfire that decimated our old neighborhood.

We engaged in some fundraising efforts to help them get back on their feet. And you, dear readers, responded with unbelievable generosity. Thanks to your prayers and help, they're recovering. They're overwintering in an apartment a few miles away from their old place, and hope to rebuild in the spring.

To say Dallas and Susie were grateful for the help is an understatement. Shortly before taking down the GoFundMe page, Susie posted the following message:

This couple has been through so much in the last few years. Dallas lost his bladder to cancer. Susie got breast cancer (thankfully caught and treated very early). They got COVID. Their house burned down. In short, it's been a rough few years for them. But the response from friends and strangers alike when the fire came through was so overwhelming that even now Dallas – a big strapping cowboy – chokes up when he talks about it.

Anyway, thankfully the weather held so we all met up at Older Daughter's apartment. She had set things up charmingly.

We brought Mr. Darcy with us, of course. It takes several hours to get to Older Daughter's apartment, and we couldn't leave him alone all day. Besides, he was absolutely giddy with excitement at seeing everyone.

We had such a fun celebration! We talked nonstop for three solid hours. Older Daughter's hospitality was wonderful – elegant yet informal. The only thing that tore us away was the nearly three-hour drive we had ahead of us.

I got a picture before we left.

We got home shortly after dark. Mr. Darcy was so worn out by the excitement of the day that he lay flat on his side for hours, sleeping it off.

If this past couple of years have done nothing else, they've illustrated how uncertain life can be. We're beyond grateful we still have the opportunity to celebrate holidays with the people we love.

(This is the commemorative "dumpster fire" ornament Older Daughter gave Don. Very apropos, I'd say.)


  1. I was pleased to see the outpouring of support for Dallas and Susie. I do remember seeing them at all of your Christmas celebrations and felt a strong pull at my heart strings. What I sent was not a lot but I was happy to be able to add some help. Loved Dons memorial Christmas decoration!

  2. It sounds lovely. Merry Christmas Patrice.

    (And yes, the ornament is perfect.)

  3. I love seeing the pictures of your Christmas cactus! My beloved grandma had a beautiful specimen. When she passed away, pieces were given out. My piece took root, but went years without a single bloom. Now, it blooms robustly from November through January- it's still making buds, and I love that it connects me to grandma after all these years.

  4. Thank you for the update on Dallas and Susie, I have been thinking of them as of late and had hoped they were on the road to recovery. Looks like you had a lovely Christmas. Hopefully soon you can celebrate with younger daughter also.

  5. I remember when that fire went through. We have friends in that neighborhood too. It was scary and so sad to drive by your friend's place and see the devastation. I'm glad that they are well into recovery from the fire and health issues.