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The Slice: Changing perceptions, one poinsettia at a time

It’s not that I hated poinsettias.

I have praised them for years. My mother likes them. My wife likes them. All God’s children like them.

But nobody likes a poinsettia Grinch. So one learns to say “Oh, yes, that is really something — boy, that’s red.”

My heart wasn’t in it, though.

Yes, they are pretty. Yes, experts say they won’t poison cats.

Still, something about these seasonal staples tempered my appreciation. Their showiness seemed superficial. It’s like they were bimbo plants. And the fact that they were bound for the garbage barrel from the moment they came through the door made me not want to get attached.

That was before Consuela.

No, I haven’t really named it. I’ll admit, though, I have bonded with the fetching 2011 poinsettia my mother-in-law ordered for us from a Spokane florist a little more than a year ago.

I honestly can’t remember why. But when it came time for that plant to go to its reward early this year, I decided to issue an executive pardon.

Sure, it had done its holiday thing. The red was gone. It was curtains for moose and squirrel and poinsettia.

The thing is, it just didn’t seem ready to go.

I am not a gardener. But I watered it and maneuvered it around the backyard like a chess piece. Without any basis in horticultural knowledge, I made sure it got some sun but not too much. And when it thrived and bulked up, I repotted it in a bigger container with some fresh soil.

My wife started calling me “Farmer Turner.”

Then, last fall, back inside it came.

After this plant’s resilience and winningly understated personality made me contemplate a long-term relationship, I asked Slice readers for advice about coaxing a poinsettia to rebloom. Several suggested locking it in a dark closet for a couple of weeks. Or something like that.

I mulled it but decided I could not do that to a friend.

So, barring a Christmas miracle, I don’t suppose the plant will be showing off splashes of red today. That’s OK. She looks just fine in green.

Today’s Slice question: How do you suppose Jesus came to be popularly depicted as someone who seemed to have northern European ancestry?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email A number of readers were nominated as the person who uses the most tape when wrapping a present. My gift to them is to keep their names to myself.

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