|Shlumbergera sp. (Thanksgiving Cactus)
For those of you who find yourself sitting at the Thanksgiving table next to your second cousin’s husband’s mother or your niece’s mother-in-law’s daughter or some other person who is equally welcome, but unknown to you until that very minute you sat down, I offer you…
1. Ask them if they know that sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes aren’t really all that closely related.
Then you can go on to tell them about how sweet potatoes are tuberous roots from the plant Ipomoea batatas which is in the Convolvulaceae family and regular white potatoes are from the plant Solanum tuberosum which is in the Solanaceae family. Then right when they are putting that big forkful of sweet potatoes in their mouth, you can announce that the morning glory is in the same family as the sweet potato. Ditto when they get ready to eat some mashed potatoes, only shout out “petunias!”
(If someone tries to one up you by saying that sweet potatoes are really yams, you can tell them that yams are really starchy tubers from the species Dioscorea in the Dioscoreaceae family and that none other than the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes people who label sweet potatoes as yams also label them “sweet potatoes”.)
2. Talk about which table scraps can go in the compost bins and which ones should be put in the trash.
If you aren’t sure about this one, study up a bit… basically any meat products go in the trash. Leftover sweet potatoes and their peelings can go in the compost bin. Do not tell them about how you have a worm composter inside because some people are touchy about discussing worms while they eat, as I’ve found out from past experience. Of course, if they are going after another helping of noodles, noodles that you want to eat, go ahead and talk about the worms to see if it ruins their appetite, leaving more noodles for you.
3. Ask them if they have planted all of their spring flower bulbs.
If they have, you can compare notes. If they haven’t, this is your opportunity to let them know that if they hurry, there is just a sliver of time left to plant some. (Adjust “sliver of time” for your region… that’s based on USDA Hardiness Zone 5). If you have planted all your bulbs, you can be a little smug, yes, even self-righteous about it. If you haven’t planted all your bulbs yet, then you might want to skip this topic.
4. Talk about all the Christmas cactus plants, Schlumbergera sp. formerly known as Zygocactus, that are showing up in the stores now.
Then rant a bit about how people seem to want to skip Thanksgiving and rush right into Christmas, even with their blooming plants. If you’d like, share with them the story of the Thanksgiving Thumper. This should be your most controversial subject, so tread lightly!
At this point, show them a picture of your cactus in bloom right now. (You did take a picture with you, right?) You can tell them how it blooms every year around Thanksgiving so therefore it is a Thanksgiving cactus, and you do nothing special to get it to bloom. Do not mention that you have two other Schlumbergera that aren’t blooming. One has white flowers, the other orange flowers, as far as you know. You aren’t sure which is which because, well, they aren’t blooming. If it comes up, just say the plants must be undecided on which holiday to bloom for, so they aren’t blooming at all.
5. Mention that yard work is a great way to burn off calories.
If Thanksgiving is actually at your house, see if you can round up a few guests for a rousing game of “Rake the Leaves”, which is so much better than some silly game of touch football or beach volleyball. After “Rake the Leaves”, if the lawn could use one more cutting before winter, mention you have four mowers in the garage and there will be mower races in the backyard for all who are interested, and then don’t serve dessert until after everyone has
raked and mowed played their fair share of your fun lawn games.
Or if it is snowing, mention the big Troy-Bilt Snow Thrower giveaway. Hurry, giveaway ends here at 9:00 pm EST, drawing shortly thereafter.
Then you can end the conversation with everyone giving in to a little gardenalgia, telling stores and recounting memories of old gardens they have known.
Finally, don’t forget, somewhere in the conversation work in a little holiday spirit and talk about what you are thankful for in your garden.
I hope this was helpful to all!
(Feel free to print this and take it with you to Thanksgiving Dinner as a reference guide. Keep it hidden under your napkin on your lap… no one will know!)