The Christmas season can trigger a variety of memories and emotions — some bittersweet. As we anticipate the joyful arrival of the infant Jesus into our homes, we are surprised when the shorter days darken our moods. We are disappointed to find ourselves feeling exhausted just when we are supposed to feel cheerful and inspired. We avoid much needed rest because we want to go the extra mile to make the season “perfect” for our families, our friends, ourselves.
I tend to find comfort and inspiration from nature — especially plants and flowers. I am encouraged when I remember a few facts about the poinsettia, one of the most popular symbols of the Christmas season. Its showy, red petal-like leaves or bracts decorate homes, offices and churches between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those brilliant colors are only possible if the plant gets enough hours of rest — total darkness, in fact — from September through at least mid-November. The uninterrupted hours of darkness trigger the colorful bract formation and turn the poinsettia into the familiar holiday symbol.
I remember the poinsettia when I catch myself postponing much needed rest, solitude or quiet. I remember to honor the cues that tell me to look within, to close my eyes and retreat from the lights, the trimmings and the to-do lists. I realize that rest and regeneration — the good stuff — sometimes need darkness to carry out their work.
When I look within, I remember the quiet joy that comes with the first dawn of Christmas. I remember that the glory of Christmas began with a child in the humblest of circumstances. I think fondly of the child I sponsor through Compassion International and pray that the light from the Christ child will greet her early, before the sun rises on Christmas morning.
The beauty of nature brings many gifts, whether they are life lessons, pretty colors, or a bountiful harvest. Garden seeds, for example, can save a family from hunger or provide an income from crops. You can share this and other precious gifts from the Compassion International Gift Catalog with a child or family in the poorest areas of the world. I hope you’ll consider looking over the catalog.
Wishing you the light and love of the Christmas season!