For years, my brother gives out Narcissus Bulbs as a special Christmas gift. They come in brown paper bags (fancy Christmas bags if he can find them on sale). Complete with a small cup holding small pebbles and the bulb. Just water and put in a window.

Pretty nice Christmas present that reminds you of somebody who cares for a long time after Christmas. That's my brother.

The Legend of the Narcissus Bulb

After the Magi left and prepared for their journey back to Herod, a servant boy with stunted arms slipped in to see the babe. He presented a small narcissus bulb to the young mother.

“My masters say your son will be a king,” he began. “I have no gifts fit for a king, but perhaps this will bring some beauty into your lives. Place it in a jar indoors, water it, and give it light. After it has bloomed this winter, and its foliage has died, trim it back and dry it again for next year.”

“My mom used to teach me with bulb, ma'am. I can still remember her lessons: That I shouldn't judge by appearances. That my only real needs are sunshine, water, food, and someone to care for me. That everything else is a 'want', not a need. That I depend on God, and that I should live that way. That I should remember my roots. That life itself is a miracle. That life is short. That there is a time to be active and grow as well as a time to rest. That death is not the end. Moreover, that someday somebody else may need my help and I shouldn't hesitate to give it.”

“Perhaps you could use this bulb to teach your son, the way my mom taught me.”

“May I be as wise a mother for my son as your mother was for you,” Mary said as she placed her small child in the boy's stunted arms. “What is your name, so that I may tell him when he's older?”

“Simon”, the boy replied. “I come from Cyrene.”

(Copyright 1997 by Michael Vrtis)