Start with all of the best intentions.
And missing summer. A lot.
Feel as if buying that orchid, yes, that expensive orchid near the grocery store checkout lane, will be like buying back a little sunshine and warmth. If you’re driving home, place the plant lovingly on the passenger seat and loop the seatbelt across it to keep it “from falling over.” If you are not driving, hold it lovingly in your lap to keep it warm.
Talk about how you have really always been a plant person. Talk about what it feels like to garden in the summer, how rewarding it feels to work in the sun.
Repeat with kitchen herbs, peace lilies, chrysanthemums, and waxy-leafed office plants. Wait for the next snowfall, and bask in your greenery.
Then spend all day putting up a Christmas tree. This is the turn.
Break your back pulling that Christmas tree through the door. Scrape your sappy hands trying to wrench the trunk into the Christmas tree stand. Adjust. Attempt to evenly arrange lights among the spiky branches. Finally, crawl under the tree with a pitcher to water it. Splash most of it on the ground.
By the end, you should begin to feel slightly antagonistic toward plants. Walk past your potted greenery without thinking to check on their moisture levels, or turning them to evenly receive light.
Spend a good deal of time running around malls, holiday markets, outdoor pop-ups. Buy many Christmas presents, and come home weary and tired and feeling very much needing to be taken care of. Do not take care of your plants.
Notice one morning that your orchid is starting to look strained. Pick up the fallen petals. Water it, but know that this, like a leprous spot, is a sign of the beginning of the end, and that from now on, water will merely prolong the inevitable.
Make a celebratory dinner for friends, intending to use your potted herbs. Realize they all look wilted and unhappy and unnervingly yellow. Have a long, sad moment, where you place the plants in the trash can. Abate this feeling by carefully washing out the clay pots for future use, and by opening up the wine.
Water the damn Christmas tree.
Realize all of your plants are now dying. Water them desperately. Tell yourself that every morning before work you will check on them. But know that no matter what you do, these plants will die. You have never been good with plants, you used to complain horribly about gardening, and you’ve been living a fantasy. Throw away everything but the orchid, which was expensive after all. And might come back.
A few days before Christmas, feel utterly perfect in the Christmas glow. Make it evening, and the Christmas lights are reflecting in the window, sip hot chocolate, and listen to soft choral Christmas music. Feel at peace with the waiting, and with the beauty of everything. It’s perfect, really, like something out of a novel. Look, there are the stockings hanging, and there are the presents, and there on the table is your withered orchid looking like some wicked thing crawling up out of soil and clawing for life.
Toss it in the trash can.
Meg Schmidt (’16) graduated after studying writing and art history. Her interests include attempting to cook paleo, reading through McBrien’s Lives of the Popes, and landing the wittiest joke in a conversation. She currently works with Eerdmans Publishing as a Graphic and Production assistant.