Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"I'll Have a Blue-hoo-hoo-hoo Christmas..."

I'll admit right upfront: I have purchased dyed carnations. I had a reasonable excuse. I couldn't find shamrocks. It was for St. Patrick's Day. The carnations were green.

I assume that the dyed carnations felt no pain, no assault to their dignity. Still, I felt that they were just a tad unseemly, as if poor little innocent white carnations were being poisoned by being stuck in buckets of coloring to get a dye transfusion up through their stems.

So I was more than a little pained to hear a story on NPR the other day on the relatively new holiday practice of painting poinsettias.

I haven't actually seen any of these travesties, but there are apparently plenty of places that sell them. Purple. Green. Orange. Shocking pink. Bright blue.

Talk about crimes against nature.

Here's an excerpt from story by Andrew Phelps of KPBS in San Diego. "Ecke" is Paul Ecke III, a major California poinsettia grower.

Growers are increasingly ordering white poinsettias so they can spray paint them in colors nature never imagined. Sales of Ecke's white plants have jumped 10 percent a year since 2003. Nurseries and big-box stores sell these novelties for higher prices. Now more homes and hotel lobbies pop, with electric-blue and purple plants. Some are sprinkled with glitter or artificial snow. It's a jolt to the industry of Ecke's grandfather.

Ecke: There are those poinsettia purists out there that think painting is, you know, just not right. I might have started out being one of those people. But I've converted to loving anything that consumers love.

Woman: I think they're horrible.

That's one of the purists.

Woman: They go against God. To me they're, just, they're not authentic. It's just a false deal.

She won’t give her name because she sells the painted plants at a big home-and-garden store,

I'm with the nameless woman. I may not be one of the world's leading traditionalist, but isn't red, and its little friends white and pink, enough colors for poinsettias to come in. Red = Christmas. Blue doesn't. In fact, I distinctly remember - at age 5 - reporting my cousin Ellen to her mom, my Aunt Mary, when Ellen had the indecency to color Santa Claus' hat blue. Everybody knows Santa's hat is red. Same goes for poinsettias.

Not content to just imagine what these painted poinsettias, I found some pictures on the Possum Run Greenhouse site. (I just grabbed the j-pegs and took a pass on signing up for the Possum Tails e-newsletter. I don't want to know what else they're up to there. I can just imagine orange and black poinsettias for Halloween, pink and purple for Easter...)

It's not like blue isn't my favorite color. The best birthday party I went to as a kid was Maggie Shephard - blue frosting (which my mother didn't approve of) and blue-dyed ginger-ale (which my mother didn't approve of, either). But do we really need a business that deals in grotesquely painted poinsettias? Sometimes are brilliant, infinite economy is just a bit too infinite for its own good.

Maybe it's just the association with the song Blue Christmas. Maybe it's that I've always found blue Christmas lights depressing. Might as well go home and put the Kenny G Christmas album on to finish the whole tableau off in style.

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