Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pointy The Poinsettia

(If you wish to hear an audio version of the following, while reading along, please go HERE. It's lengthy, so give it a good chance to load!)

Once upon a time, there was a poinsettia named Pointy.

(His given name was Poindexter Poinsettia, but everybody called him Pointy for short.)

Pointy liked living in the large greenhouse with his poinsettia family and other plant friends. The world was a wonderful place full of bright sunshine, all the water he wanted to drink, and dark, rich soil for his roots. He thought that he couldn’t possibly be happier.

Then, one day in November, some of Pointy’s friends weren’t around anymore. Pointy wondered where they had gone. He also wondered how they got wherever they went. They were plants, after all, and thus only able to walk extremely short distances.

Pointy asked his uncle, Pedro Poinsettia, where his friends had gone.

"Oh, it’s a joyous time of year, Pointy!" said Uncle Pedro.

"What do you mean?" asked Pointy.

Uncle Pedro leaned close to Pointy and whispered in his ear (or, at least, what passed for an ear on Pointy.) He said:

"In November, all the poinsettias who have grown big red leaves are taken from the greenhouse and sent all over the world to give joy to the people who celebrate Christmas. The people are very happy to have a poinsettia in their home or school or office. They smile and say things like, ‘What a beautiful poinsettia! How pretty it is, with its big red and green leaves! Merry Christmas!’"

Pointy was very excited to hear this news. He had never before considered the possibility of travel, but now he hoped that he might be able to go far away, to see many interesting people and things. He enjoyed the thought of bringing great joy to people celebrating Christmas. He packed his bags and waited to be shipped.

(Well, OK, he didn’t actually have any bags. As a matter of fact, even if he did have bags, he wouldn’t have known what to pack in them. But, you get the idea. He was excited and ready to go.)

Finally, the day came when Pointy was planted into a big pot, all trimmed with pretty gold foil. He felt extra-special now! He was then loaded into a truck, along with about thirty other plants. As the truck was driving away, he waved good-bye to his Uncle Pedro.

(No, he didn’t, really. No hands, you know? He did what he could, though. Uncle Pedro understood.)

As they were bumping down the road, Pointy looked around. He appeared to be the only poinsettia plant in the truck. He struck up a conversation with the flower next to him, a girl. He knew she was a girl because... well, he just did, that’s all.

"Hi, I’m Poindexter Poinsettia, but everybody calls me Pointy. What’s your name?"


"You're really pretty, Rose."

"Thank you. You have nice big red leaves."

Pointy blushed.

(To be truthful, he didn’t actually blush; his leaves were already red. But he WAS a bit embarrassed. Rose really was pretty, and it was nice to get a compliment from her.)

Pointy asked, "Do you know where we’re going, Rose?"

"Yes, I think so, Pointy. My aunt Petunia said we’re all going to office buildings in Newton."

"Newton? Where’s that?"

"I’m not entirely sure, but I believe it’s east of Worcester."

"Oh! Is that a good thing?"

"It’s better than being in Worcester," said Rose.

Pointy looked out the window of the truck. Having never been out of the greenhouse before, he was amazed at how many plants there were everywhere. He saw great huge trees, and big green hedges, and large bunches of scary weeds, and gigantic expanses of grass, and even a few pretty flowers, like his new friend, Rose. However, he didn’t see a single poinsettia anywhere. This worried him a bit.

He asked Rose, "Am I going to be the only poinsettia in Newton?"

Rose shrugged her shoulders.

(Nah, not really. She didn’t have shoulders. She did indicate that she didn’t know the answer to Pointy’s question, but shoulders never entered into it.)

The truck turned off of the road and into a parking lot. After it stopped, the back door of the truck opened and a man reached in and grabbed Rose.

Pointy said, "Good luck, Rose! I hope you bring much joy to the people in this building!"

Rose blew a kiss to Pointy, and then she was gone. The man carried her inside of the building where they had stopped.

The man had left the door of the truck open. Pointy was able to see, through a window in the building, Rose being carried by the man. The man stopped and handed Rose to a woman who was sitting behind a desk. The woman immediately became very happy, a big smile appearing on her face. As the man who delivered Rose was leaving the building, Pointy saw the happy woman carrying Rose all around her office, showing Rose to all of her friends. Everybody smiled as soon as they saw Rose, and Rose was very happy in her new home. Pointy was also very happy, for now he was extra excited about how happy he was going to make the people in the building where he was going.

The man closed the door to the truck. Soon, the truck was moving again. Pointy imagined being carried into an office where all the people would smile and say, "What a beautiful poinsettia! How pretty it is, with its big red and green leaves! Merry Christmas!"

While Pointy was imagining this, the truck stopped in front of another building. The back door to the truck was opened, and suddenly Pointy was in the man’s hands, being carried outside.

"This is it," thought Pointy, "I’m about to make many people happy! I can’t wait to see their smiles, and hear them say ‘Merry Christmas!’"

The man brought Pointy up some stairs and then through a glass door. There was a woman at a desk just inside the door. Pointy tried to make his big, red leaves stand up as straight and proud as possible. As he did so, he heard the woman say:

"What the hell is that?"

The man said, "Gift from your landlord. It’s a poinsettia."

"Duh! I can see it’s a poinsettia. What are we supposed to do with it?"

"I don’t know, lady. I just deliver ‘em. Merry Christmas."

Pointy didn’t understand. The woman didn’t seem happy at all. Had he done something wrong?

The woman yelled to someone, "Hey, come see what we got."

A man came out of an office, saw Pointy, and rolled his eyes. He said, "Ugh! Another poinsettia? Every year we get a friggin' poinsettia, and every year we have no place to put it. What in the hell are we going to do with it?"

"Don’t look at me," said the woman at the desk, "I don’t have any room here for it."

Other people came out of their offices to see what the noise was about. As each one saw Pointy, they laughed and made faces and said mean things.

Pointy wanted very much to be back in his friendly greenhouse. This wasn’t at all as he had imagined it, or as Uncle Pedro had told him it would be. He wanted to just shrivel up and make himself as small as possible.

Finally, the woman at the desk took him and placed him on a wobbly table, near some stacks of old yellowed paper and bent paperclips and dried up pens that nobody ever used. Every so often, someone who hadn’t seen him before would walk by. At first, Pointy tried standing up proud and showing off his pretty red leaves. However, it was always the same story. Either the person just walked by without noticing him, or laughed and said something mean about him.

After a while, Pointy just gave up. He stopped caring what the people said. He started losing his big red leaves that he had been so proud of. As he did so, the people in the office started saying even worse things about him. They kicked at his fallen leaves and, when they picked them up, they threw them in the garbage, cursing. He could feel his roots drying out. Nobody gave him any water. Nobody cared about him. There was no sun; just a cold bit of light from some fluorescent tubes. As much as a poinsettia had a heart, Pointy’s was broken.

Pointy lost many more of his leaves. He was dying. He wanted to die. Life was a miserable thing. Christmas? It was just a cruel joke. He had imagined much love, and had received none.


One day, about a week after he had been delivered, a new person came into the office. Pointy hadn’t seen this person before, but he expected that he would hear more of the same insults and derisive laughter. He didn’t care. What could this person say that would hurt him more than what he had already heard, already lived through?

The new person said, "Hey, who gave us the poinsettia?"

The woman at the desk answered, "Oh, the landlord gave us the damn thing. It’s been shedding leaves ever since it got here."

Pointy listened disinterestedly.

The new person said, "Well, heck, maybe he needs a little water. Has anybody given him a drink?"

Pointy’s ears perked up (or, at least, what passed for ears on Pointy.)

"Let’s give him a drink," said the new person.

"Knock yourself out," said the woman at the desk.

The new person went into the kitchen, and Pointy could hear water running. As much as he thought he was beyond caring, he felt himself thirsting for a drink. The new person came back out carrying a cup full of water. He poured it into Pointy’s dirt.

Pointy was shocked by how good it felt.

The new person said, "There you go, guy. How’s that?"

Pointy fairly yearned to jump out of his pot and give the person a hug.

The new person said, to the lady at the desk, "Hey, do you mind if I take him into my office? Maybe I can bring him back to life."

The woman at the desk said, "Give it your best shot, Jim, but I think it’s a lost cause."

Jim! That was the friendly man’s name! Pointy tried to make what leaves he had left stand up a bit for Jim, but he was too weak to do very much. He noticed with gratitude that it didn’t seem to matter to Jim. He was picking him up and taking him into his office, anyway.


Every day, Pointy waited for Jim to arrive. Every day, Jim did something nice for Pointy. He gave Pointy a drink of water, or he put him where he could get a bit of sunshine. When one of Pointy’s leaves was withered and painful, Jim gently removed it, giving Pointy space to grow a new, stronger leaf.

Finally, it came to the day before Christmas. For all of the love Pointy was receiving from Jim, there was still the pain of knowing that what he had heard about Christmas was untrue. Nobody had seen him and said, ‘What a beautiful poinsettia! How pretty it is, with its big red and green leaves! Merry Christmas!’

Pointy had grown back some big, green leaves. The few red ones he had left were strong and bright now. He wished that someone would get to see them for Christmas. He wished that he could bring someone some joy. Of course, Jim liked him, but he still wanted to believe in what his Uncle Pedro had told him during that time which seemed so long ago now. He wanted to be a plant that made someone smile at Christmas.

Pointy saw lights being turned off in the office, and he heard people saying cheery good-byes, and wishing each other happy holidays. Well, he had been lucky to find one new friend, he supposed. Maybe that would get him through the holiday. Jim would be back in a couple of days, and that wouldn’t be so bad. At least he made Jim happy.

He heard the door lock. It was dark and cold now. His leaves drooped a bit. Even though he knew what was going to happen, he had still hoped that Jim might...


Pointy heard the door to the office open and he noticed one light come on. Probably the cleaning people, thought Pointy. But then, there was Jim, bending down to pick him up, then carrying him out of the office, down the stairs, and out into the... SNOW! Jim put Pointy down into the cold white stuff.

Oh, no! Was Jim tired of him, too? Was he leaving him to die in the snow? What a cruel world it truly was!

Pointy only had a few seconds to entertain such morbid thoughts. Jim picked him up again, and put him into the front seat of his car. Jim put a seat belt around Pointy's container, and turned on the heat. Then Jim started driving. Jim was taking him home! For Christmas!

And so Jim DID bring Pointy home for Christmas, and Pointy saw Christmas lights and Christmas trees and he had sunshine and warmth and as much water as he wanted to drink. And love. Pointy had love. And Jim said to him, on Christmas morning...

"What a beautiful poinsettia! How pretty you are, with your big red and green leaves! Merry Christmas, Pointy!"

He even knew Pointy’s name!

And when spring came, Jim planted Pointy in the front yard. And Pointy told his story to the gooseberry bush, and the little pine tree, and to all of the dragon lilies. He grew big and bushy and bright green. And when the frosts of autumn came, and his leaves turned a little yellow, and he thought that maybe Jim had forgotten all about him, Jim dug him up and brought him back into the house. And he is there even now.

And this year, not only does Pointy know that Christmas will be a happy time, Pointy IS the Christmas Tree - at least for now. And he is the happiest poinsettia in the whole entire world, even though he has no big red leaves at all.


(This was written, and first published, last year. That's when the final photo is from, also. Since then, Pointy has had another chance to grow bigger and bushier while planted outside.

I dug him up and brought him back in for the winter a couple of weeks ago. The shock of being dug up didn't do him a great deal of good - he lost quite a few leaves, and things looked dicey for a while - but he's over it now and looking forward to another Christmas.

If you somehow get a poinsettia for Christmas, remember that it doesn't have to die. With a bit of love, it can keep growing for years. It probably won't have big red leaves for very much longer, but green is a nice Christmas color, too!)


uncle jim said...

That is one beautiful fruitcake under the tree!

mlh said...

This story was way cool! I was not expecting it to be you at the end.

Balcony Gal said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I was just taking out more holiday music this morning and thought, where is that Pointy story? I'm sure it will be a great hit this year, too.

FYI- plants that get brought inside from out usually do drop many leaves. The old leaves are used to outdoors and they need to create new leaves to keep themselves well nourished. When you put him back out again, hit leaves will toughen up.

Good job, Suldog. 10 Balcony points for you!

Anonymous said...

I will take mine last way past christmas usually and they die off...l always regret it with a sadness....l have taken note....though not sure the westerly winds along our SOlway Firth here to Carlisle, will blow the thing over...having live din Mexico, the trad plant is in abundance there, blossoms forever young..

though my bonsai love sit outside all year many of them die..they hate it indoors...

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

sorryyy!!!! the previous post was from me FFF not Moannie, to whom l was lending a hand with editing something...forgot to sign in properly..

lime said...

It was most fun to hear your voice since you use your voice to make your living. I'm glad you gave pointy a good home and kept him alive. I am sorry to say I'd likely be unable to keep a pointsettia or any other plant alive for very long under any circumstances given my black thumb of death....but I do appreciate the folks who can make green things grow.

Elaine said...

This almost made me cry :(

Angie Ledbetter said...

What a grand adoptive parent you've made for dear Pointy. I thought he was going to have to stay in the "unloved" pile at the nursery. :)

I have a big plastic ficus strung with lights. Does that count?

Karen said...

Very nice - I enjoyed *hearing* the story! Pointy made a beautiful Christmas tree! Thanks for telling me about the letters to the soldiers hoax - geez louise. Oh, I have an identical Christmas stocking as you -- of course it says Karen and not Jimmy :)

Buck said...

Very nice, Jim... thanks for this!

I always had bad "luck" with poinsettias, but it wasn't from a lack of trying. Perhaps The Second Mrs. Pennington and I gave 'em too much water (we never did work out that "who's watering the plants?" thingie)... or something.

I miss 'em. There's just no space for plants inside El Casa Móvil De Pennington... and that's kinda sad.

tshsmom said...

That is one of the best Christmas stories I've ever read! If my kids were younger, I'd print it out and read it to them every Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I love the Pointy story!!! Thanks so much for bringing it back this year! :)

XO Thim :)

david mcmahon said...

Vintage Suldog!

mrsnesbitt said...

Wow! This was wonderful! I am a primary school teacher and could "see" how this would make a fantastic christmas play!

Came via David, a great blog spotter.

Anonymous said...

I just clicked on the story in David's POTD and had not realized that I had not realized it was you till the end and read the comments. I mean a sweet sentimental post from Jim, with no apparant irony.

Grateful for the info. re longevity of said plant, now I know they can be saved year on year I'll get JP to buy one.

Rachelle said...

Followed David here Sul,
What a totally sweet and amazing story!
I loved every minute of it, thank you so much for sharing it with us :))
Working in a nursery, I know how much work is required to keep them alive, good for you!

Hilary said...

You old softie. As soon as Jim came into the picture .. I knew.. which made me smile even more. What a great idea to post it in audio form too. Thanks for the fine entertainment. :)

Suldog said...

Thank you, all. As many of you know, I'm especially proud of this one. I'm happy to see it so well-received once again.

Karen said...

Now you, too, can have snow on your blog! :) Go here

KellyJMF said...

To get Poinsettias to bloom again, they need 10 weeks of 12-14 hours of total darkness every single day (like under a box or in a closet that no one opens). This is more of a commitment than most people are willing to make when it's so easy and cheap to just get a new one.

Ericka said...

*sigh* great. make me feel even guiltier for my black thumb and my eternal fruitless optimism that THIS time, it won't die! *sniffle*

very nice story though!

Jeni said...

My Mom and Grandma both always said that if a poinsettia was cared for properly, it would be around, year after year, and be a thing of beauty. They were good at seeing to stuff like that. Me? Sad to say, I'm a bit like Lime with a black thumb apparently of major proportions too! I did manage one year to keep a poinsettia alive till about April or May though, which for me is pretty doggone good. Now I remember, after seeing the comment about putting them in a dark place that Mom and Grandma had said that too and they always put the poinsettia in the basement, back in the darkest corner. WHo knows, but maybe I will remember those instructions this year and be able to keep this year's plant alive and kicking.
That was truly one of the best posts I've read -definitely ranks right up there as one of your finest pieces. Thanks for sharing it. (And good luck too with the teeth -extraction, replacements, financing, etc.

Carol said...

Jim Jim Jim. I have many favorite posts of yours...but THIS one. Oh my. You melted my heart...and I'll never look at a poinsettia plant again in the same way. sigh.

Bear Naked said...

An excellent Christmas story.
I love it.

Bear((( )))

Sandi McBride said...

What a wonderful Christmas story. I love Poinsettias and my Mother always planted them out after Christmas...but she simply repotted them in larger pots, sunk them in the ground, then dug up pot and all to bring them in in November...wonderful post...congrats on the Post of the Day mention!

Stu said...

I wept - I hope you're happy.

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Awwhh! I love your story. I knew it was you, as soon as "Jim" came into the scene! Despite your occasional bluster, you're a truly kind-hearted man, Jim Suldog Sullivan!

A slightly early "Merry Christmas" to you, YOUR WIFE, and "Pointy."

P.S. Thanks for your visit to my Ouachita National Forest Sky Watch post.

Sarah said...

aww, i wanted to cry when i thought Pointy was abandoned!

Kudos to you for having a heart...

Shammickite said...

My huge Mr Pointy from Christmas 2007 is still outiside next to the big Chinese Elm in the back yard... but unfortunatly he will never be the same again as he is solidly frozen to the ground by now... he is an EX-Mr Pointy.

Isabelle said...

What a blatant display of fruitcake!! Hey Suldog, it's Isabelle from Mondo Fruitcake here. I don't think you specifically thanked me for that fruitcake delivery, but frankly, I'm surprised you even ate it--did I even put a note in it? It was the most clandestine box of fruitcake ever delivered. But I'm glad you enjoyed it! I might have some others this year, too . . .

Crazed Mom said...

Love it. I just love it! :)

Speedcat Hollydale said...

Amazing ... I had no idea!

Jenn said...

Outstanding! This is easily one of the best things I've ever read of yours. Giving inanimate objects feelings is such a great perspective to write from...I was really feeling pretty bad for poor Pointy there for a while! Lovely Christmas story :)

Daisy said...

That was hilarious! I love Pointy, he's so sensitive- yes, indeed, festive too. Merry Christmas.

CrazyCath said...



I love happy endings.

Angie Ledbetter said...

ATTENTION: Award nomination for Mr. Jim Suldog Sullivan at my blog tomorrow. (Understand if ya have too many already and don't wanna play...but you fit the category so well, so drop by and check it out.) :)

ciara said...

such a great story. i about cried for pointy.

we don't have 'real' plants, trees, or poinsettias around. even tho i try my best to keep them alive, i was born w a black thumb. they don't live very long. i can't be that cruel to them.

Chris Stone said...

what a sweet story! glad Pointy made it. Great Christmas tree!

Janet said...

MUST you make me cry? I just wanted to go in that office and dope slap all those mean people. I tried to keep alive the poinsettia we got last year, and it made it until about July. I never knew you could plant it outside and dig it up again. I'll try that this time. (The dead one is still in our dining room because the Queen refuses to admit defeat. I still have to water it for her.)