The Christmas Cactus, The Poetry of Wine, and Other Seasonal Delights

Christmas cactus with single bloom. (Sonia Nicholson photo)

The Christmas Cactus

“There’s something wrong with this plant,” I say to no one in particular.

I know that already, though. I’m a cacti serial killer.

For whatever reason, my husband continues to buy them. I admire the faith he has in me. In my ability to nurture these delicate forms of life.

I do alright outdoors. Give me fruit trees: figs, Macintosh apples. The spindly peach tree I got for free off a local used site a few years ago; it’s doubled its yield annually. To be clear, I still don’t know what I’m doing. But at least I’m successful with these, even if I don’t always understand how or why.

Inside, my green thumb is effective with basic green houseplants. That’s it. Flowering? Nope. Cacti? Ha ha, I don’t think so. Sooner or later—usually sooner—they end up in the compost heap.

It’s where this Christmas cactus should be. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I assumed a long time ago it was dead. Now I poke around the base. The cactus isn’t even in proper soil. Lacking the wherewithal to buy more at the time, I quickly dug out a sad mix of gravel and dirt from around the deck posts outside.

So hard, it’s only a step below cement.

Maybe that’s why the leaves resemble my late grandmother’s hands. Dry. Wrinkled. Curled.


Except now one of them looks different. A pustule at the tip.

I’ve never seen that before.

There’s something wrong with this plant. Something happening.

I check it every day. Several times. Before and after work. Once in a while, I mist it. The boil grows. A second one forms. I’m intrigued.

Soon, a hint of pink. And then I know for sure.

This thing’s not dead.

Even before the flower appears, the cactus is the best part of my week. I tell family members about the miracle on my coffee table. They smile and nod.

Clearly they’ve underestimated the appropriate level of wonder.

I’ve had the Christmas cactus for years. Years! Written it off. Administered last rites. All that’s left is a proper burial.

Good thing I’ve been busy.

I study the bloom. A flash of colour. Dainty. Strong. A perfect little package.

If this isn’t a sign to never give up, I don’t know what is.

The Poetry of Wine

I love, love outside-the-box options to submit writing to! Kudos to Judd’s Hill family-run winery in Napa Valley for encouraging and supporting poets with a wine-themed poetry contest since 1999.

You’ll find my poem, “too much”, in the class of 2022. Read all of the wonderful entries on the Poetry page of their website. (Scroll to bottom)

Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit Judd’s Hill one day! 🍷

Judd’s Hill, Napa Valley (Screenshot from website)

Other Seasonal Delights

And by “Seasonal Delights”, I mean “updates”! I’m currently focusing on finishing my second novel, A YEAR OF SUMMER. I’m on Chapter 9, and aiming to have the first draft done by the time PROVENANCE UNKNOWN comes out at the end of March. It’s an arbitrary date—one book has nothing to do with the other—but it’s a date, and it gives me a deadline to work towards.

So, I’m not submitting as much poetry, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, etc. these days. BUT, I do have a travel article on Osoyoos, British Columbia (my hometown!) forthcoming in Rivanna Review. I’ll send out more information when it comes out.

Happy holidays!

Published by Sonia Nicholson

Sonia Nicholson is an archivist, executive assistant, and writer. She was born and raised in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada and studied French and Spanish at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, two children, and two rescue dogs. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsonsonia_

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