The holidays always remind me that I need to be tending to several things right now besides my usual gardening. As much as I enjoy finding beautiful new colors and sizes of the lovely Christmas poinsettia; and doing Dumpster diving into the piles of discarded Christmas tree parts at the Christmas tree tents around town, I soon realize that something is happening.
Crowds of people are everywhere. This is the so-called "Snow Bird Season" for our area and, yes, there are a lot of them, as usual. However, they are more smiley as they go about their business of buying lots of holiday decorations and get settled into their warm Southern nests.
Merchants also love this increase of business and happily reduce prices until one is not sure just what we are actually saving on anything, unless we kept last week's receipts.
The first wave of Snow Birds is looked upon as just a necessity - they prop up the economy by filling up the restaurants, help make long lines at the stores and clog the doctors' waiting rooms.
However, all of a sudden, they are more mellow. The warm air and sunny skies seem to loosen them up and, of course, they now have the holiday season to share with the rest of us.
It is easier to start up a conversation about the holidays, easier to find someone to agree with you that everything costs too much and it sure is a lot easier to put up the holiday decorations.
It does not seem to matter that their neighbor has more lights in the yard, or even less. They now have something in common. You stand in line at the post office to send boxes back North, and you have someone to share your story about who is up there and waiting impatiently for something from down here.
There are parties and dances and newfound friends from the same state you just left. Someone you would never have met, if you had not left.
A lot of these friendly birds start right up volunteering in the hospitals and libraries and the many organizations so popular in the area. God bless them for their needed help.
Having something in common with others is a blessing.
Gardening chores seem to take a back seat for a bit. That is good, it is easier to be content and more creative when you relax and become aware of what is going on around your world.
A good garden needs good care, proper feeding, proper grooming, and proper plans. It should be an enjoyment to the gardener. Of course, if the gardener has just been digging four holes to plant palms or hibiscus bushes, or a row of Xzoras, then the real enjoyment will be coming later.
That is the same way with our farden of life. Mankind is made to love and be loved. We do not thrive without sharing our world with others. Some of us have dry spells, some of us fall through the cracks; some have forgotten what a great world they are living in. What do we really need to have in common? Love and respect for all.
Yes, I know the world is often cruel and heart-breaking. We can, however, till our life garden as we do our backyard garden. We can share a smile, a phone call or hug with someone and we will have made something beautiful grow. Sow a seed now.
There are so many people, old young, disabled or just lonely walking around in our world hoping for someone to care about them. That is a common misery. We can share our world with them this holiday season; try a friendly smile as you hold a door open for a slow-moving senior; say thanks for that hard working store clerk who would much rather be home with her family than working through the holiday rush hours.
How about the neighbor down the street that you have never waved at as you go by. You do not have to stop and become involved and he may be a bit startled, but watch, the next time you go by he will be ready to wave back.
I know, I have done it.
It does not matter which religion you swear by, you know there are many religions and none of them are going away. There is plenty of room for us all and we really do need to start allowing each other to worship or not worship, as we please. It seems to me that one very basic concept of religion is do not judge others. Well, lets start now.
Start growing a better life garden, one step at a time, no rush, just start. Love the fact that we have the freedom to be friendly and non-judgmental. Try this new gardening plan for the rest of December. When you see it works, you will like the warm, friendly feeling you experience. That is what we need to have in common.
It takes all kinds of people to make a world. Plant one good seed at a time and help start your life garden.
Happy gardening until we meet again.
H.I. Jean Shields is past president of the Cape Coral Garden Club.