I have a very complicated relationship with the holidays and their prerequisite decoration requirements, most particularly, the Poinsettia plant. Some people call it a flower but really, is it a flower? It seems fairly obvious to me that it is a green plant that has the ability, once a year, for our enjoyment, to turn it’s leaves red.
I find that to be an amazingly unselfish contribution to the holiday season which I can appreciate, so that being said, I cannot pass up a good poinsettia…or five. And therein lies the complication.
They are not an inexpensive obsession.
I need several, and by several I mean many of the medium plants, most which sell for around $5.99 to $7.99 a pot. My need for them is nonnegotiable if I want to put together a proper centerpiece or decorate an entrance. Don’t even get me started on the giant ones which I LOVE—because they are gorgeous. They can be as much as $25-$30 at a swanky nursery, upscale farmer’s market or florist in the city.
Granted, you can find them cheaper at certain grocery stores, (you know which ones I’m talking about) but they are the text-book case of “you get what you pay for.” Pathetic is the word that comes to mind when I think of them. They are the Tiny Tim’s of poinsettia plants. They are generally minuscule, dry and scrawny, with broken leaves, which these plants can’t afford because of their inherent sparseness.
After feeling the appropriate amount of pity I turn around, suck it up, and pay my eight dollars.
Here’s the thing. I have been buying poinsettias at Christmastime for well over forty years. I figure I pick up at least six to ten of them at eight dollars a plant. I am ashamed to admit I also buy at least three of the large, lush and perfectly crimson red thirty-dollar-a-pop plants each year so that makes almost fifteen poinsettias and that doesn’t count the replacement ones I buy after the ones I purchase right after Thanksgiving wilt and die by the second week of December. And you can just forget about all of those years we held Christmas Eve at our house. There was veritable red sea of Poinsettia plants as far as the eye could see. And not the Tiny Tim’s, the big, expensive guys.
I know you’re all with me. I see you with your plants at the check-out counter where we all size up each others choices and swallow our shame.
I sooth my guilt this way: Poinsettias are like buying into those expensive but strictly frivolous kitchen gadgets, like a super-duper vegetable juicer or a fancy food dehydrator. You convince yourself you must have them. You NEED them. Then after a couple of weeks you curse yourself for being such gullible idiot and get rid of them only to find yourself a year later forgetting why you hated them and doing it all over again.
So… you can do the math. I have spent a small fortune on seasonal plants that every year I promise myself I will nurture and use again the following year but in truth I once spotted a poinsettia plant in a friend’s garden in July. It felt like an aberration. Nope. I will continue to squander my money for the next three weeks and I justify it by deeming poinsettias necessary and calling them festive. To me, they signal the start of the holidays.
But let me be blunt. Had I not been bamboozled year after year by this nefarious plant/flower I would own a small island in the Bahama’s next to Johnny Depp’s or a diamond the size of my head.
Janet is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and you can find her on her blog