I lighten up.

My favorite-ever Christmas lights are the ones that form a star on Gumbo Lily’s barn. The star shines in the spirit of Advent, I think, reminding us of the magi who journeyed, seeking the Christ child and following a star.

It’s very bright and bold out there on the dark prairie…who knows who all sees it? All her blog-readers can, and once I saw its picture my imagination was captured, and the thoughts and images in my mind have included it for three Christmases now. It’s perfectly simple and elegant, a bold yet humble announcement.

A week ago neither the Christmas spirit nor the Advent spirit could make a crack in my darkened mind. I had forgotten the inspiring prairie star, and the houses in my neighborhood that started lighting up before Thanksgiving accused me of being unchristian.

Last year was the first time we had ever put up lights outdoors, on a bush in the front yard. I was so happy! But since then we have cut down that bush, and until last week I never gave a thought to how it wouldn’t be there to hang lights on again. We are lazy decorators outdoors as well as in, so coming up with a new plan for showing our faith with lights was likely to take another 20 years.

I was ashamed of the darkness of our house. So I went to a big store and bought a star to put in the window. It’s much more humble than Gumbo Lily’s star; as people drive past our house at night I wonder if they will even glance up to the second story and notice it. At any rate, I have made my statement, however minimalist.

Now my excuse for low spirits is the increasingly daily ban on wood-burning. We are heading into the fourth day in a row of the law standing against us and our wood stove, on the side of air quality and healthy lungs. How petty that I would be in a funk about this, but there it is. I dug around in my candle drawer and discovered this oddly tall and bent red taper that I must have snatched from some grab bag years ago. I thought it would be o.k. to “waste” it tonight to make a little fire on the table near my computer.

Now I’m noticing how it doesn’t really coordinate with the orchid in the background….wait, did I say orchid? I did! I’ve been wanting to tell my orchid story for a couple of weeks but it never would make its own blog post so I’ll stick it in here where it doesn’t quite fit.

People have given me several orchids over the last couple of years, and when they stop blooming I try to put them in a darker place, if not exactly dark. Other than doing that, I forget what all I am supposed to do, to nurture them into blooming again.Three of these were sitting in the garage for several months, and when Spring came I took them outside so I could mostly ignore them on the patio all summer long. They don’t need much water so they didn’t die.

At the end of summer, though, along about October, I was sweeping leaves and generally cleaning up the back yard when I spied those three languishing orchids, and as I was in a ruthless mood, I decided to just throw them out. Whoever gave them to me would not want me to be burdened and annoyed by plants I don’t know how to grow.

BUT — as I grabbed the first one, I noticed a new leaf and a shiny green bud. The second one had a long shoot coming out horizontally, but it was obviously a flower stem with buds! And the third plant also had new growth. I was immediately convinced of their will to live, so I tidied them up and put all three on a plate that I can keep on a table somewhere in the house.

Quickly the one plant bloomed, and by this week it had three flowers. The other orchids are coming along nicely. I haven’t yet got some Christmas color in the house of my usual berries-and-greenery sort, but when I remember to look their way, these flowers cheer me up.

11 thoughts on “I lighten up.

  1. We aren't doing much decorating here either this year. I love your simple star. And Gumbo Lily's also. And I'm so glad you did not toss those orchids. They are rewarding you with beautiful blooms. I threw out an old tired little potted palm today and am feeling like I killed life. Every time I open the trash bin, there it is looking up at me . . .


  2. what a nice surprise to find your orchids growing…was the stem shorter? ♥ I tried saving an orchid once and it just looked like a green house plant, didn't seem to be growing any more and so I tossed it!

    Gumbo Lily's star is awesome…and so is yours…what a great way to say “Christ is here!”


  3. I like the way you tell the star story AND the orchid story, so real you are.
    Some moments/time periods during the day are a little “bleh” over the course of the holidays. They usually pass. I think your star is very meaningful and I bet many souls that are longing for light will look up and find courage.


  4. You have a LOVELY star! People will see it who are in the right frame of mind to be open to it. The other day we spotted the quite small Hanukkah Menorah in the neighbor's house – it was small – but when the Spirit of the season is in your heart – you notice : )


  5. I never can grow a orchid to save my life, now I know reading your post I over watered. I didn't know that.
    Well the burning ban is a bummer here too. It always makes me sad when they say we can't burn. Here is a small rant, the oil companies will be dumping tons of junk in the air and I can't go outside because it hurts my lungs, but they ban our wood stoves. Okay rant over.
    I love the pictures of of the snow in your life. I don't have many photos of snow.
    I think it is nice you put a star in the window. I like that.
    Have a lovely day and I hope you can burn soon.


  6. I think it is nice that you put a star in your window. I love to drive around the neighborhood and see all the pretty lights. It gives off a pleasant sense of community, to me. I'm sorry about you not being able to use your wood burning stove whenever you like. Last year, they started telling us (in Southern California) that we could only use our fireplaces on certain days. It kind of seems preposterous!


  7. I feel so honored that you thought my star was worthy of a post here. You did a beautiful job of sharing your heart about the star and its meaning, and I'm glad you chose to put a star up in your upstairs window. I think it's beautiful and surely, when others “look up” and see it shining there, their minds will think of the Star in the East that drew wise and humble men to the Christ. I love to think about it.

    I am SO impressed by your orchids! I was given an orchid and allowed it to continue living in my “laundry room greenhouse” and it has 4 shoots, however, they don't seem to do much. I wonder how long it will take for them to decide to bloom? I added a little fertilizer to the water and hope it might help. Maybe they need some neglect?



Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.