Kyle and the Christmas Cactus

During the Holiday season, we get lots of notes from far-away friends and family. All are welcome and a few are truly special. On December 24th, I received such a greeting from Deanna , a treasured friend I met through a Life-writing workshop. Reading what she sent to me, you’ll not only be touched by her great writing but also by her caring spirit.

Please pass this post around to those you know… Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone reads it and puts “Kyle” and Deanna in touch with each other?

Kyle and the Christmas Cactus

Dear Kyle,

The “Christmas School Holidays” are upon us, once again, and my thoughts return to you each year at this time.

In 1991, I left the local school community, that I had loved and been a part of for eleven years, and drove an hour away to join a fledgling staff in a smaller lakeside community. The school was comprised of portables while we waited for the new school to be completed. Our Principal was a bright, warm-hearted, dedicated woman who had chosen a staff made up of vibrant, adventurous young teachers and a few experienced, near-retirement souls like myself. Her enthusiasm was tempered daily with the message that the students were always our priority and that their learning environment be a balance of educational and life skills.

You came into my life in the September of 1992, a wee boy going on five. You were in the middle of a blended family with older, protective siblings and younger ones who, as might be said, nudged you “out of the nest”, too soon.

There were the days you climbed the stairs into the Senior Kindergarten portable, needing a knee to sit on and a welcome hug before venturing into the day’s activities. Then, there were those many times when a surly little fellow stomped into class, unwilling to join the morning circle until you had spent some moments alone under the teacher’s desk or by the book shelf until you felt ready to tackle the new sound or song.

Fall disappeared and the Christmas break was fast approaching. Holiday songs and poems were learned, crafts and cards for parents were made and the Nativity play and concert,completed. On that last day of school before the holidays, you walked in with a plant that so represented you. It was a tiny Christmas Cactus, needing only love, time and attention to help it to grow and to bloom. I wrapped it carefully against the cold, took it home and told my four children that it was my ‘bestest present”.

You and your family moved out of the area later on in the next year and I, not knowing where you went, prayed that your new Teacher would see the real you and your potential.

I willed that Christmas Cactus to survive!  I watched it, watered it and year after year, moving it from home to home, waited for a bloom that, somehow, would assure me that you, too, were coming along as I constantly wished for you.

Last year, Kyle, there was ONE beautiful flower on that wee plant that keeps doing its best and I was thrilled. Did that mean that you, also, were not only surviving but thriving?

Kyle, you are twenty-three now and I hold you in my heart and wish you well. This year, eighteen years later, is definitely the “bestest” year yet. There are THIRTEEN blooms on “our” Christmas Cactus!!

Wherever you are Kyle, Happy New Year!

Deanna, Oakville, ON

Image credit for Christmas cactus :


Filed under Family and Friends, Writing

6 responses to “Kyle and the Christmas Cactus

  1. I thought of Kyle today, and Deanna, in watching this marvelous talk. The talk is the one by Barry Schwartz.

    “THIS WEEK on”

    And I wondered, perhaps Deanna can find Kyle via Google, if she remembers his last name, destination city and such. Just might work.

  2. kwallek

    A reward of teaching that is pretty common, is former students coming back as fellow teachers.

  3. That choked me up. It would be totally cool if the two of them could get in touch. I’m going to pass this around to my internet friends, if that’s ok.

  4. I’m an admittedly “bah-humbug” type; but that story made me teary. Thanks so much. And I hope so much for Kyle!

    Which reminds me, Christmas should be ALL year.

    • Alinde and Barb… your reaction to this story mirrored mine. I agree it would be so wonderful if Deanna and Kyle could meet again… definitely pass it around. If enough people receive the letter, there’s more chance that someone who knows Kyle will be among them.

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