The Winter Rollercoaster

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The post-holiday season… the downhill crumble from the excitement and energy that culminated in what many consider to be winter’s peak. It is as if a spell has been broken. I returned home and walked into my decorated living room with a sense of heaviness several days after the final winter celebration. 

It is as if I am seeing the room for the first time, and my eyes open to what I fondly refer to as the “Christmas Clutter.” This clutter is the bag of wrapping paper that my husband diligently collected as gifts were opened. It is also the shelf of an overwhelming amount of figurines that suddenly do not spark the same joy they did the day before. Then the clutter builds as you catch a glimpse of the piles, you know, the ones, the gifts that do not have a home yet. Maybe they are opened, and one of you is mid-construction of a 2000-piece puzzle that creates a 4D map smack dab in the middle of your living room. Or it is the half-folded lump of clothes that was the victim of a family fashion show. Maybe it is simply the tree that suddenly seems much larger and overwhelming as the deconstruction of a masterpiece commences. 

We emerge from the cold and the dark, the post hustle and bustle, to find a sense of emptiness. The decorations come down, and suddenly there is a void. Bright lights, colorful trinkets, and fluffed bows, slowly disappear from the neighborhood. My home still has lights hanging, and I swear the peer pressure from the surrounding barren houses follows me as I drive down the street. In my experience, this loneliness brings the sudden urge to purge, reorganize, and clean. 

This seasonal purge tends to reach every corner. That drawer in the guest room that has not been touched since we moved in is now clean. The baseboard behind the fridge had a slight crack – It’s now repainted. What junk drawer? Eventually, the sparkle wears off from the deep cleaning and organizing, and I have to face the neglect that is my houseplants. 

Yes, taking care of my plants brings me great relief and peace. No, I do not do it often enough. Truth be told, I am a terrible plant mom. So deservedly, my plants love to reflect my poor mothering and throw tantrums. They do not care how overwhelmed I am or which important guest is visiting. They choose to melt down at their pleasure. Wilted here, falling leaves there, maybe a few extreme cases of absolute surrender. One plant even had the audacity to play dead after it got too cold, do plants even know how much it costs to keep the house heated?

Fortunately, I am not above bribery. Each plant gets its special treatment post-tantrum, like a little plant spa day. The ones who behave well (in my house, it’s the Calathea) get a good dusting and maybe an upgraded pot. Those who are a smidge more dramatic (*cough, cough,* Philodendron) get a deeper cleaning. Some leaves are always stubborn, so I keep a pair of pruners handy in the kitchen for these occasions. Then I attend to my children, who appear to have given up. Research is always recommended, as I have learned that some of my plants, like Alocasia, can have a dormant winter period. They must take after my husband. My sink temporarily becomes a “plant hospital” for very needy children who have made friends with common plant pests.

After cleaning, debugging, and repotting, I make sure everyone gets fed a solid meal. In my experience, I found filtered water, HB-101 revitalizer, and Flower Power to be the key to less-than-optimal care. 

Kids, plants, cleaning, and holidays alike always seem to be hard work. Of course, after all this effort, I feel so much better. Very few things, in my opinion, beat washing your dirty hands post-planting. The air is easier to breathe, and everything is right in my little world. In these times, I always like to reward myself. This time, I think I will get another house plant. After all, they certainly have a way of making me feel better.