Mulch and Mayhem

by Amy Mullis

I love Christmas—the holiday known around my house as the Festival of Poinsettia Murder. It’s my special homespun tradition, sort of like Martha Stewart’s clever centerpieces or Paula Deen’s Drop Dead pound cake.

My family has a separate tradition. It’s called, “Countdown to Holiday Herbicide.” They take turns guessing how long it will take for me to snuff out the Spirit of Peace and Goodwill by killing the Christmas flower.  The winner gets extra whipped cream when the pumpkin pie comes around.

I'm up to the challenge. As a trained amateur with years of experience, I can take that Poinsettia from Merry Christmas to mulch in minutes.

This year’s offering was a particularly hearty specimen, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s an arrangement with an attitude.  I knew it was time to win one for the chipper.

Before long I had a lovely pile of poinsettia potpourri arranged in a dainty ring around a festive foil-covered pot of sticks.  But knowing I would soon be found out by the plant lottery patrol, I needed to spring into action.

I pulled my 50-caliber rapid fire glue gun out of its holster, rounded up my glue stick shells, and hummed the A-Team theme music for inspiration as I began reconstruction.

“What’s that smell?” Son One strolled through the kitchen sniffing the air like dinner was minutes away from setting off the smoke detectors.

“What smell?” I asked innocently, shoving the contraband paraphernalia behind my back.

“Mom, either you’ve been branding wolverines in here or you hot glued your thumb again.  Are your hands stuck to your pants?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve been dabbling in mind-altering substances.”

“Oh, no. Don’t tell me you’ve been in the glitter, too.”

Just then the family dog, a hearty mix of Labrador and Dalmatian, wandered nonchalantly through the room.  He bore so many poinsettia leaves between his ears that he looked like Sitting Bull in full headdress. Translucent sparkles floated like snowflakes in the air around him.

 “Why does the dog look like he’s the main attraction for Disney Princesses on Ice?”

“I had a little trouble with my aim.”

Son Two joined us in the kitchen, head bent over a hand held video game as he headed toward the refrigerator.  He stopped suddenly, sniffed the air, and looked at me accusingly.  “Have you been trying to make cookies again?”

Son One snorted.  “Stand back. She has a glue gun and she has no idea how to use it.”

I brandished my weapon, sending hot adhesive across the room and adhering the dog’s bowl to the linoleum for life.

The dog sidled over to the dish like a Sugar Plum Fairy in full costume, and I felt my heart grow like the Grinch’s on Christmas morning.  In a world where a Labrador can grow up to be a fairy princess, maybe I could end up with a green thumb.

After all, once the wrapping paper lies in mangled piles, and Santa scrapes the dried glue off the reindeer, isn’t hope what Christmas is all about?

Besides, I won the Poinsettia Slaughter Lottery under an assumed name.  The dog and I entered as partners.

Join me for more "Don't Let This Happen To You" moments at Mind over Mullis.


  1. Love it!

    (You know, you could rig the Holiday Herbicide bet with fake flowers...)

    The image of your pooch all poinsettia'd up will stay with me all day. ;)


  2. I appreciate your efforts towards this holiday icon. I have tried, in earnest, to keep my poinsettias alive. I do very well with other blooming varieties but have failed miserably with the poinsettia.

  3. Adam, Glad you liked it. I find a big, black Lab makes an especially fabulous Poinsettia Queen.

    Sally, be proud of your other blooms--and don't let me near them. My green thumbs are lethal weapons

  4. I love the picture of you with your hand stuck to your pants, lying to your son about the origin of that nasty smell.

    Amy, you missed your calling--you should have been a parade float designer!

    Loud applause for another winning story!!!

    P.S. They make silk poinsettias these days...

  5. Jeanette, Silk! What a wonderful idea! Do you suppose I could be trusted? (I'm afraid I would attach myself to a parade float, though!)

  6. I can never go for the real variety!! I am really good at plant killing--especially the delicate variety!! I need hearty cacti!! heehee

    Have a merry christmas!

  7. Waitaminute!! You're NOT supposed to kill them!? I thought we were supposed to offer them as sacrifices to some obscure pagan god by killing them slowly by dehydration.

  8. Mariel, Can you make a Christmas cactus bloom? I'm considering making that my target for next year. *rubs hands and cackles*

    Elysabeth, Join me at midnight to celebrate the winter solstice and the Festival of Poinsettia Homicide! There are more like us. We are not alone!

  9. I love love love this! Especially the part about the dog. Wonder if my black lab would look good in craft supplies. Don't worry, I'd give him the glue gun, it's safer that way. ;)


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