When the boys were young, we used a Countdown to Christmas calendar. It had a pocket for each day that held a strip of paper with an activity that would help us get ready for Christmas. Even though I haven't used that calendar for many years, I still like the concept of spreading out the holiday activities, and try to do one or two things every day to make the season less hectic.Today is the first day of winter, and the shortest day of the year. It's gloomy here, and according to the forecast we won't have any sun all week, so it's a nice treat to see this on my window seat:
This is one of three Christmas cactus plants that are scattered around the house, and the first one to bloom this year. Christmas cactus don't come from the desert, but from tropical rain forests. Just like poinsettias, they're photoperiodic, which means they need less than 12 hours of daylight per day to set buds. That guarantees their flowers will be a bright spot of color in the cold, dark winter.
My original Christmas cactus plant came from a small cutting about 20 years ago. The tiny plant grew bigger, and now it's in a six inch pot in the master bathroom. When the cats were kittens, they sat in the middle of that plant and broke off several stems, which I planted and put by the kitchen sink. Five years ago my Christmas table theme was lime green and pink, so I put both blooming plants on the table for a centerpiece. I had to trim some ungainly stems, so I stuck those pieces in a pot, which grew into the plant in the picture.
The plants flower best when crowded in their pots, so it took several years for each plant to start blooming. Now they all bud prolifically, and the flowering will continue for a full month.
Just the antidote for darkness.