The winter morning was cold, a few days before Christmas and there was snow on the ground. I put on my down coat and walked out on the Rocking Chair Porch with a cup of hot coffee. A few moments later, a guest of Applewood Manor, Wyatt Kinderman, joined me. I had met him at breakfast yesterday and got to know a little about him and his wife. He is a PHD, a University of Pennsylvania professor of Molecular Biology. I had been staring at a small green bush that had seemed to have pushed up out of the snow and I swear it was about to bloom. “Wyatt you’re a plant guy—what do you think of that?” I said, pointing to the little evergreen.
He moved closer to the porch railing to look. “That, Mr. Collins, is a Helleborus Niger, better known as the Christmas Rose. In a couple of days, it will be filled with rose-like blooms that will turn into beautiful white flowers with pink edges.”
“Really! I have never seen a flowering plant at this time of the year, at least not growing outside. I mean, just look around. All the plants are dormant, even the bears are hibernating.”
“I understand your surprise, Mr. Collins. I’m a scientist, but and I don’t have any scientific explanation for the Helleborus Niger’s unusual behavior. I can tell you that the Helleborus plant is one of the reasons we exchange gifts at Christmastime. It is said to show that no gift is more valuable than something that comes from the heart even if the gift is inconsequential. Have you not heard of the legend of the Christmas Rose? Let me tell the story.”
It was the first Christmas. People from near and far were coming to see the newborn Savior, Jesus. It was, of course, a cold December night. People of all kinds had come with gifts and presents. The three Wise Men were there with their myrrh, frankincense, and gold to offer to the Infant. According to the story, there was also a poor shepherdess, Madelon. She had heard of the coming of the Christ child and seeing the Wise Men as they passed through, she followed them and now she stood at the door of the stable. However, she had brought nothing with her on her journey and being so poor, she had nothing to offer to the Child. She had searched in vain for flowers all over the countryside as she traveled, but there was not even a single bloom to be found in the bitter winter. Feeling bad, perhaps even worthless, she began to cry quietly at the sight of all the valuable gifts that other people had brought. That is when an angel appeared and gently brushed away the snow at her feet where her tears had fallen. Out of the snow, a plant rose up with beautiful pink tipped white flowers. The angel told her that the Christmas roses were far more valuable than myrrh, frankincense, or gold for they are pure and made of love. She took the flowers to the Baby in the manger, and it is said that the Holy Infant smiled at her. And the Christmas Rose has come to symbolize hope, love and all that is wonderful in this season. And that, Mr. Collins, is the best explanation I can give you, even as a scientist, for those Christmastime flowers.
“Well, Sir, I think you have just given me a very valuable Christmas present. Thank you for the story, Wyatt and Merry Christmas to you and your wife!”