Yesterday was the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The official end of the Christmas season. And as it does every year, the Baptism of the Lord brings up a dilemma.
"Yeah, I know," you're saying to yourself. "Why did Jesus have to be baptized? It doesn't make sense. I mean if baptism removes original sin, obviously Jesus didn't need it, and if baptism makes you an adopted child of God well that's pointless in His case too, and if...."
No no no. All those questions have been resolved. Check out the Church Fathers, or the Catechism, or EWTN. They've got all those answers.
No, the dilemma of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the one that never goes away,t hat has to be worked out anew every freakin' January, is just this:
"What the heck are we going to do with all these poinsettias?"
Every Christmas every church I've ever attended packs itself to the gills with poinsettias. I've seen banks of poinsettias, trees of poinsettias, wildernesses of poinsettias. Vast fields of flaming red tropical plants. And they look great at Christmas, I think we can all agree on that.
But what about after Christmas? You can't have holiday red flowers after Christmas. It looks stupid.
The problem is poinsettias arent' flowers, they're plants. And the damn things live for weeks, or months. Too long, anyway.
So what's to be done? There's always the poinsettia giveaway. "Anyone who'd like to take a lovely plant home after Mass please feel free!" I fell for that one year. I picked the biggest, gangliest plant I could find. When I got it home the only place I had room for it was in my bathtub. It was there until July, when someone (ahem) finally put it out of its misery.
If your parish offers the poinsettia giveaway, my advice is: do not succumb. Walk away. Those plants aren't orphans and you're not Mother Teresa.
If you can't walk away, the next best thing is to go for the white ones. At least you can try to pass them off as liturgically neutral. Failing that you can clip the stems and put them in a vase until they have the decency to wither and die like supermarket zinnias.
It's usually kids who can't pass up the big giveaway. In this case all you need to do is tell them "OK, but you have to take care of it. You have to make sure it gets enough water and sunlight." I guarantee that plant will be history in a week.
If you live in a tropical climate it's probably ok to take the poinsettias home. You can just stick them outside it the dirt and let them fight for their own survival, I guess. We don't have that option in Minnesota.
Nobody wants to look at red poinsettias in January- it's like looking at the sweater your aunt gave you for Christmas that you didn't have the heart to return. Stick to the white or walk away. In the mean time watch your mailbox for spring bulb catalogs. That'll take your mind off winter for a bit.