The sedum bloomed beautifully, taller than most sedum and full but tightly constructed like a cheerleader’s pompon, just like it did the year before and the year before that. The difference was that as it grew, the stalks separated from the middle of the original plant, spreading all over that part of the garden and leaving a hole in the center that mildly annoyed the gardener but not enough to propel her to do anything differently.
She cut stalks and decorated her home with them, arranging them with sprigs of rosemary, a plant with the same sort of beautiful, unwieldy but predictable center-holing attributes.
The best thing about the sedum was that when it dried, it looked almost exactly as it had when it lived. The other best thing was that the seeds were easy to harvest, and the gardener did so each holiday season, tucking them into Christmas cards (real Christmas cards, often homemade) that she wrote for people she loved.
She found many people to love each year.
The most precious people were the same ones as the year before, and the year before that.
She knew good people and she knew good plants, with annoying habits and otherwise.
One night she sat alone in her house, a little sleep deprived and a little buzzed on red wine she’d enjoyed with one of those good people, and she realized that people and plants were the same because the world – lovely as it is – does not allow for too much deviation from what has already grown.
A Christmas tree glowed in the background.
A year ago she found herself alone and wrapping presents, feeling 50% sentimental and 50% melancholy, in a state of wonder about all the ways she and the world around her had changed in 12 months. That refrain would repeat, and repeat again. Fundamental change, when it happens, takes many lifetimes.
The sedum flourished. The gardener flourished.
It was Christmas.
The people who loved each other toasted another year, and were surprised at their surprise.