Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gifts that Keep on Giving

During a difficult period in my life, my friend Alice gave me a prayer plant. “It will remind you of where your strength comes from,” she said. Sure enough, every evening as the sun went down, the prayer plant extended its leaves upward. I was reminded to turn to God more often, and I also remembered my friend.

One low-budget year, I gave each member of our church newsletter committee a small Christmas cactus. The plants were only $1.50 each; some even had blooms. A couple women accepted their plant reluctantly, complaining that they didn’t have any luck with plants; the rest accepted their gift graciously and seemed to be pleased.

Over the next few years, I was surprised by their reactions. Each time I saw one of these women in a social or church setting, she always gave me an update on the status of her plant. When I visited in their homes, I was shown how well their plants were doing. Some struggled to keep their plants growing just for me. Eventually most if not all of the plants bloomed. As the women cared for their plants, they remembered my gift. The perky green cactus became a symbol of our friendship, and a gift of love that kept on giving.

But you need to plan early! A plant needs several weeks to “start” (or you can buy starts at your favorite nursery). The same year that I gave the cactus plants away, I purchased one for myself. That plant is now three feet in diameter, and bloomed three times this past year. I thought of all the women I had given a cactus to, and I hoped their plants had brought them as much joy as mine had brought me.

A Christmas cactus is an easy plant to start. Break off a leaf, soak it in water until small white roots form, and plant it in potting soil. I have a few plants ready to go for the upcoming Christmas season. Now is the time to begin your gifts of love. Who knows, you could save some money, and you’re sure to be remembered for a lifetime.

Blog courtesy of excerpts taken from one of my articles: "Gifts that Keep on Giving" by Carol Allen Anfinsen at

Over the Christmas holidays, we're also going to see the Manatees. They can't tolerate cold weather and come up river to the energy plant where the water is warm. One of the fascinating creatures in Florida's tropical waters.