What compelled me to take my mother’s mystery houseplant, I don’t recall. Its smooth, reed-like fronds grew outward from a single, papery stalk in the shape of a fan. My mother kept it in a plastic pot – the kind in which you might bring home a tomato plant from a nursery. Nothing showy. And the plant wasn’t either. “Give it a little water once a week,” Mom said, forgetting what it was called. “It blooms once every year or so, but if you’re patient, the flowers are spectacular.”
I was feeling unusually down this week, more than even dreary skies and freezing drizzle could account for. Tuesday, I didn’t want to go out. But needing to do errands, I zipped my rain jacket, buckled my kids in the van, and drove to Bath anyway.
“What’s the date?” I asked my 15-year-old daughter, Lydia, pulling up to the bank.
“April 17th,” she said.
“Oh.” I sighed. Suddenly my heavy mood made sense. “Ruth’s birthday.”
Is there anything much sweeter than a baby announcement? Who doesn’t love receiving a card in the mail with the pucker-faced picture of a relative or friend’s new arrival? I enjoy posting such proclamations on the fridge, eager to share the good news with any unsuspecting visitors who may walk through my door. So it was when a baby announcement reached a Judean hillside long ago. Only, this message didn’t arrive via a rural mail carrier. It arrived with an eruption of light via a heavenly angel. Friends and relatives weren’t the recipients, but a band of frightened, uneducated shepherds watching over their flocks.