The Christmas Cactus

REVIEW:
“The Christmas Cactus is an achingly beautiful exploration of the healing that can follow grief and the mysterious ways in which love can live on. Both Wrenn's evocative, tender text and Aitken's exquisitely rendered watercolors offer the perfect heart-rending details that make vivid one young girl's loss of her beloved Nana at the hardest time of the year to say goodbye to a loved one--and the unexpected gift that emerges from it. I cried, I smiled through my tears, and I loved this book.”
--Claudia Mills, author of the children’s books: 7 X 9 = Trouble!, Makeovers by Marcia,
and the Gus & Grandpa series, among others

Excerpt from The Christmas Cactus:

"Megan, darling," said Nana softly, touching her fingers to Megan's cheek. "it's okay to cry. This is hard for you, I know. It's scary because folks don't really understand what dying is. But I think I know."

Megan looked at Nana's face. She wasn't used to seeing Nana so thin, but everything else about her was comfortably familiar, her soft white hair, her pale blue eyes framed by her half-moon glasses. And she still wore her wedding ring, though now on her right hand. But even there, it hung loose and lopsided on her finger.

"I think maybe it's like this Christmas cactus," continued Nana. "These plants live and grow all year long, waiting for Christmas. That's their one time of year to bloom. At first, there's just a tiny little bud on the end of a branch. Here." Nana took Megan's hand in her own and touched her finger to the tip of a branch. "Then, slowly, the bud grows and opens into 'bout the prettiest flower you've ever seen." Nana spread their fingers wide like a flower blooming, and smiled. "Well, I think our lives are like that. We live and grow for a whole lifetime. And then, at the end of our lives, we bloom. We become something very different and wonderful."


All artwork on this web page is copyright Susan Aitken.

Selected Works

Novel
"A hilarious and poignant debut novel about a mother of three who's suffering from a case of middle-aged invisibility and a soon-to-be-empty nest--and the dog who guides her out of the darkness..."
Children's Picture Book
A touching story for children on the loss of a grandparent.

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