Tell me a reason it may be a good thing to keep houseplants in my home, and I am going to believe you. I really don’t need an excuse to buy another houseplant, but if you know anything I don’t know in support of this new habit of mine, I’m willing to listen.  

When I was a child, it seemed everyone’s grandmothers had houseplants, and here I am – living the houseplant dream.   

After I learned plants respond to being spoken to, I decided to name my plants. And I talk to them and call them by name. I make an effort to make sure they are not dusty – which is more than I can say for the rest of my house at times.

Only a few of my plants have been officially named, for I have to find a perfect name for them. My little plants who are not yet named know they just need to hang on – I’m working on it.

My Thanksgiving cactus knows her name is Flora – having been named after Mrs. Hug, my childhood neighbor lady.

I always thought Flora was a Christmas cactus – but then I came across an article that explained the difference between the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter cactus – and Flora is indeed a Thanksgiving cactus.  

When she was in bloom over the holidays last year, she was the ultimate show-off. She was gorgeous, and I took her to a wellness meeting to show her to my new friends. I think the trip out was a bit hard on her. She got that dehydrated look, so I settled her in a spot I thought she would appreciate, and I started paying attention to her. Who knew a plant with a dehydrated look can mean they are over-watered.

She survived her show-and-tell day, and she will probably survive another day out as well as enjoy some outdoor time this summer – now that I know it’s a good thing for her and her cactus friends.

A few months ago, my friend Marcy listened to me talk about the down-day I was having, and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but Marcy on my porch, with a potted violet in her hand.  I have been trying to think of a name for my new little girl. I thought about naming her Violet, but it didn’t seem original enough. The day came when my friend Glenna spoke of her Aunt Violet, and I decided Aunt Violet was her new name.

And then there is this little succulent plant who has a purplish color to her – somewhat like the color of hair we sport if we are fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age. Since her coloring could be described as lilac, I named her Lilah.

A plant I received over the holidays has a willowy look to her – so she now goes by Willow, and I am often reminded of my husband’s Aunt Fern when I water my Frosty Fern. And then there is the plant who looks like a lily – so she was named Lillian after Lillian Bible. And Idris knows she is named after Idris Hug – ladies from my childhood days.

I didn’t know my Great Aunt Goldie sometimes went by Golda until I found a stationary box full of letters written in the early 1900s. The letters were written by Grandma’s family and friends and are quite fun to read.

Aunt Goldie finished one of her letters with “Love and best wishes and lots of kisses. Love, Golda.”

And there I sat, with her letter in my hand, already in awe of the words she penned so long ago, and what did Aunt Goldie do but end her thoughts with such endearing words.

I read her salutation more than a few times – “Love and best wishes and lots of kisses. Love, Golda.”

It was one of those moments when I felt that heart-melting thing we’re all familiar with. And to think Aunt Goldie wrote her beautiful thoughts over a hundred years ago – and they are just now catching up with me – how’d she do that?  

Her words made me want to find someone to send a greeting card to that very moment – for I would be able to pass Aunt Goldie’s words along to a friend who needed to read them, and I knew they too would feel a little wink from above.

If my goldfish plant was thinking she would be named after Aunt Goldie, she was right. She ought to feel special when I call her Golda at times.

My grandparents also left a few old newspapers for me to read, and if you have ever perused through a century-old newspaper, you know there were free embroidery patterns to clip and save. My grandmother was one of those clip-and-save kind of girls, and I am now the proud owner of Grandma’s saved embroidery patterns.  Interestingly enough, Aunt Goldie mentioned working on a dresser scarf in one of her letters to her sister.  

Since I never know what I am going to find in my mother’s collection of saved stuff, I was not surprised to find hand-made items my mother’s generation dare not throw away. Doilies and such. But I have to admit surprise when I happened upon two embroidered dresser scarves. They appeared to be put together perfectly. Someone knew how to make a needle and thread go right where it should. I recognized the French knots right away. And there were daisy stitches and chain stitches used to make the flowers and vines. It made me think those from my grandmothers’ generation were certainly loved and nurtured as they were taught how to take a delicate piece of cloth and make something so pretty.

There was one problem with the dresser scarves – or so I thought. The small golden-colored stains on them made me think they were no longer usable – who wants stained-up dresser scarves? I was soon reminded of one of the perks of friendships when my friend Kathy not only knew how to restore them, she actually took the scarves home, did the work, and delivered them back to my door. Talk about making someone’s day.

It never occurred to me until writing this little essay that I have received many hand-made gifts over the years, in which the yarn or fabric was in my loved ones hands, and perhaps on their laps, as they worked away with me in mind.  There’s a lot of love and care stitched right into that gift.

And even though the item will eventually look a little dated – if we take advice from those before us, we will hang on to it. Someday we will call it retro, then vintage, then maybe even antique. But the thought and care it took to make the item will always be there.

All of us have a loved one or two who helped us become who we are. They taught us, and nurtured us, and wanted the best for us. Many of us can point to an item in our home which was a gift from family or friends – certainly with a little story behind it – things made of wood or fabric, houseplants sitting upon a doily, dressers adorned with table scarves, and hand-written letters which show they cared for us and loved us.

And I know Aunt Goldie and Grandma Lula have a few wishes for us – just like your loved ones have for you – and that is their love. And Best Wishes. And lots of kisses.

My Thanksgiving cactus in bloom the first week of December 2020.
The leaves of a Thanksgiving Cactus are flat and wide with serrations on the leaf edges; the leaves of a Christmas Cactus have smoother edges.