It stood tall, wrapped with holiday paper and ribbons; inside was a Christmas cactus, its pink tubular blossoms contrasting with the glossy flat-shaped leaves called cladoles. This was in 2004, a gift from my now deceased brother and his wife in 2004.

Years passed. My houseplant, potted beneath my study window, multiplied in size and repeated its annual winter flowering for two weeks. During that time, a curious joy filled me. I remembered the givers of this gift and the flowering of their forty-four years of marriage, blood-red in fidelity and courage.

Again this holiday season, my heart warms as even more blossoms on my Christmas cactus bow their branches toward the hardwood floor. Indeed, there is a  strange epiphany in this: the fragile beauty of blooms emerging from tips of pincer-like claws.