- A Gift of Poinsettias
- By Barrington H. Brennen, December 19, 2002
Seasons greetings and a joyful new year. This is the time of the year
when friends, relatives, and lovers show how they appreciate each other by
exchanging gifts. Gifts, however, should not be used to buy a relationship. They
should be given to affirm each other in a mutually supportive relationship.
Therefore, before gifts are given, there should first be a loving relationship.
Some spend lots of money to purchase gifts; but there is still something
missing. It is in the heart of the giver. If you have never affirmed your
friend, relative, spouse, or lover without a gift, then the gift you plan to
give now would be meaningless, no matter how valuable it is. A very special way
of showing someone your appreciation is by making a gift with your own hands. It
can be in the form of a letter, homemade card, or an art piece. Most
importantly, the best gift you can give during this time of the year is
One of the most beautiful gifts given this time of the year is that of
Poinsettias. This red and green plant adds life and color to the environment.
Below is the famous story of the Legend of the Poinsettia. Although it is only a
legend, enjoy it and grasp its meaning. Then share it with a friend for
Christmas. (The author of this story is unknown.)
- THE LEGEND OF THE POINSETTIA
- "Juanita was a little girl who lived in the small village of San
Pancho, Mexico hundreds of years ago. Juanita's family were farmers and they
were very poor. As Christmas approached Juanita's mama and papa became sick
and Juanita had to help care for her little brother and sister. There was
much work to be done and young Juanita did her best to cook and clean and
help with the burro in the fields. All the people of the village were
decorating the church and making special gifts to give to the Christ Child
on Christmas Eve.
Everyone would take part in the Christmas Eve procession, singing and
carrying candles. Then Padre Gonalez would place the figure of the Baby
Jesus in the manger and the villagers would put their special gifts around
the manger. Juanita had tried to weave a colorful blanket for the Christ
Child, but she was to little and the yarns became tangled. She tried to sew
little leather boots for her gift, but the leather was too tough and she was
not strong enough to push the needle through. She tried to think of
something very special that her family could give to the Baby Jesus, but
with mama and papa sick and her younger brother and sister too small to
help, she could think of nothing. At last it was Christmas Eve. The entire
village was ready to form the procession, the candles were lit, the singing
began as the villagers walked through San Pancho carrying their gifts to
place at the manger.
Juanita hid in the darkness, watching with tears in her eyes as the
procession went to the church.
Suddenly an old man stepped from the shadows nearby. "Little girl, are
you Juanita?" He said. "Si," answered Juanita, wondering who
he could be. "I have a message for you. Your mama and papa are going to
get well soon. So do not worry. Go to the church and celebrate Christmas
with the other villagers. Your brother and sister are waiting for you."
"I can't," Juanita told him. "I don't have a gift for the
Baby Jesus. I tried and tried to make something but I couldn't finish
"Ah, Juanita, don't you know that any gift is beautiful because it is
given. Whatever you give, the Baby Jesus will love, because it comes from
you." "But what can I give?" And Juanita began looking
around. She saw a big patch of green weeds nearby. Juanita rushed over and
picked a huge armful. Then turned to the old man. But he was gone. Juanita
walked into the church. All of the candles were blazing, the children were
singing as she walked down the aisle with her bundle of green weeds.
"What is Juanita carrying?" the villagers whispered.
"She's bringing weeds into the church!" Juanita placed the green
weeds all around the manger. Then she bowed her head and prayed. A hush fell
over the church. Voices whispered, "Look!, Look at the weeds!"
Juanita opened her eyes. Each weed was topped with a flaming red star. And
when everyone went outside after the Mass, all the bunches of tall green
weeds throughout the town were shining with red stars. Juanita's simple gift
had become beautiful.
And every Christmas to this day, the red stars shine on top of the green
branches in Mexico. The people call the plant la Flor de Nochebuena. The
flower of the Holy Night - the Poinsettia. When we first heard the Mexican
legend of the Poinsettia, our whole family was touched by it as only
Christmas can touch. This Mexican wildflower is known by many names in
Mexico: flor de fuego (fire flower), flor de Navidad (Christmas flower), and
flor de la Noche buena (flower of the Holy Night.) The Poinsettia came to
the United States through Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, who served as the
nation's minister to Mexico from 1825 to 1830. He was fascinated with its
beauty and called the plant "painted leaves", because the part
often thought of as the flower actually consists of leaves surrounding a
smaller flower portion. He took cuttings home to South Carolina when he
returned from Mexico in 1830. The Christmas plant, which we call Poinsettia
after Dr. Poinsett, found its way into our own Christmas traditions, and
nothing seems to say "Merry Christmas" better than a beautiful red
and green Poinsettia." Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.
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