We’ve had a running feud over an indoor plant. “I’m throwing this plant away if it doesn’t do what Christmas cactuses are supposed to do!”  I protested loudly, pointing out all the other plants that we love just for their greenery.  “Don’t you dare—there is a long history in that plant!”
More than fifteen years ago, a dear friend gave us the huge cactus because she could no longer carry it outdoors in the warm weather, which she knew was good for the plant.  We accepted it graciously and followed her instructions even after moving from Ohio to Michigan.  But one summer it fell apart in the flower bed and I thought it was a goner.  Until my sister, an ultimate green thumb stopped by and rescued it.  She patiently took the living stalks, got them to root indoors and then presented them to me for my 69th birthday.  The plant grew and flourished until the woody stalks resembled those of its forbearer.  But nary a bud appeared.
When you can buy a tiny cactus at Lowe’s for under five bucks that is just covered with blooms it is hard to stay loyal to green foliage that refuses to sprout pink flowers from its elegant stalks.  I suggested something I read--put it in a dark place for a while.  He tried that for a couple of days but it only increased his distain for the bloomless plant. We moved it into the bedroom by a window with morning sun--nothing.  I almost begged the hapless plant to “win just one for the Gipper.” The stakes were high: bloom or be gone.
One morning, my husband bellowed from the bedroom, “Come here!”  I hurried thinking the worst. Instead I witnessed a mini-miracle.  One gorgeous dark pink flower.  After four years of waiting, our Christmas cactus finally did what it was supposed to do.  Just in the nick of time. 

Some have said that this was a miserable year.  Certainly misery abounded in historic natural disasters—floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, droughts and hurricanes.  And misery walked alongside hope as Middle East countries revolted against oppressive rule.  Misery erupted in shopping malls, high-speed chases, and killing sprees of deranged gunmen.  We don’t have to look beyond our small circles to experience miseries of lost health, relationships and surety.

But my favorite things in 2011 somehow trump all that misery.  One benefit of blogging is the chance to look back.  “Come what may,” was the phrase I used at the end of 2010.  Now I know all the “what mays” that have come.  I chose to highlight a few of my favorite things:

- seeing the pleasure of a granddaughter as she gave us a made-from-nature, woodpecker ornament for the tree
- enjoying a rare week in the Colorado Mountains with nearly the whole family
- finding a new place to live for one family member
- watching the swan pair nest, raise their young and teach them to fly (their gain, our loss)
- sharing the beauty of wildflowers and tall grasses with eager school kids
- listening to creative word combinations from writers in our extraordinary GR Writer’s Group
- meeting this year’s classes of eager memoir writers
- hearing God’s Good News every Sunday and striving to live it during the week

Here’s to many beautiful “what mays” in the New Year!