The Finer Points of Poinsettias

My mother had a brown thumb. She was very talented at things like typing (90 wpm!), speaking perfect conversational Spanish, and throwing one heck of a party. But gardening was just not her thing. In fact, one year for her birthday my brother Dub and I chipped in and bought her a book entitled, Plants You Can’t Kill. Of course, being a super mom and a very gracious lady, she opened the package and exclaimed, “Awww, thank you so much. It’s exactly what I wanted!” Yeah, right.

But as soon as Thanksgiving was over each year, for my mom, a botanical miracle occurred. While Daddy was climbing into the attic to pull down ornaments, snowmen, nativity scenes and Santas, Mama was as the local garden nursery buying poinsettias. She loved them and believe it or not, amazingly, both of her thumbs turned green as she managed to keep them all alive throughout the holidays. We always had a gazillion of them placed strategically around the house in shiny foil-covered buckets. And that wasn’t all. We had poinsettia tablecloths, glasses, decorations for the tree, plates and even bath towels. One year she hit pay dirt and came home from the A&P grocery store with poinsettia toilet paper. While most people complain that their family trees have a few nuts, or lemons, or even bad apples, ours was no different, with the exception that every December each crazy branch was smothered in poinsettia leaves.