Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Older Than William Junior

My Family has had a complicated and somewhat tortured history with Christmas Cacti.

For years the Clarke's had a Christmas Cactus that had been passed down for years, we called it the "Legacy cactus". It was huge. It was beautiful. It was "older that William Junior" (My Grandfather).

See My family is different than other families. We do not take pride in purchasing a new Christmas cactus every year, watching it bloom and them moving on to other seasonal plants. Oh No! the Clarkes take pride in nurturing a plant until it is literally overflowing its pot. We offer pieces of it to our neighbors. We marvel over its beauty at family functions. We consistently remark that it is "older than William Junior".

Unfortunately, my grandmother somehow managed to kill the Legacy cactus. We are not really sure how she did this as cactus are pretty low maintenance. My mother thinks she must have left it outside during the frost. All in all the family was outraged. How could this have happened. But years have past (I'm not sure how many but it has been 17 years since my grandmother, herself passed, so it has been a while).

This year at Thanksgiving we were admiring my aunt's Christmas cacti as they overflowed their pots in the hallway. My mom asked if any of them came from a piece of "the Legacy cactus". "No."my aunt remarked, obviously disgruntled. "I still haven't forgiven her for killing that cactus. It was older than William Junior you know!"

So last year when I rescued this scrawny Christmas cactus from the grocery store I work at, something innate in me woke up. Maybe I had dreams of one day being able to say "That Cactus is older than Jody's oldest boy Clyde and he will be 63 this March!". But for a while it appeared that my Christmas cactus dreams would never be reached. Buds did not appear between Thanksgiving at Christmas. A customer who came through my line at the grocery store told me that you have to keep them outside for a few months during the summer for it to bloom (how in the world does it know that it is outside?!).  But as the New Year dawned my cactus has sprouted and blossomed. SO while it has been a late bloomer it has been worth the wait.

The other day my sister and I were skypeing with my other sister, our parents and her little boys. I proudly held my Christmas Cactus in front of the camera so they could see it's vibrant flowers! They praised me and my cactus and I felt tied to the generations of my family who had loved and nurtured cacti of years past.

 I like that I could be starting new family traditions. I like that I could have a legacy to pass on. I like that even though my grandmother successfully killed one of the harder plants to kill the frost could not kill this quirky aspect of my family that makes us unique. And  I like that while there is no longer a cactus that is "Older this William Junior" this story is and that makes me smile.