After all these years, Santa still reigns

Santa has been with us for hundreds of years, but has not one extra wrinkle on his face.

He loves kids and loves his reindeer, which makes him special. He’s industrious. There at the North Pole, it is said that he and his elves work tirelessly to fulfill children’s Christmas wishes.

Santa Claus symbolizes the holiday season like nothing else. The Christmas tree is a symbol of the season, but Santa Claus personifies the season in a way that trees cannot.

His image is not related to any church or country, so he can cross cultural and religious lines. It places him in a unique position for the entire season rather than for Christmas alone.

He’s not just for kids. Adults enjoy his red-suited presence in stores, and his image on Christmas cards and in decorations. His is a sweet, loving image in a world where those qualities are sometimes hard to find.

Christmas grouches say the Santa is a lie that should not be told to children. But young ones add a few years of knowledge and intuition, they know the gifts are from Mom and Dad.

At this point, wise parents explain that Santa symbolizes the spirit of good will and giving at holiday time.

If history is a reliable predictor, Santa will be alive for centuries to come.

You can coax bulbs to bloom during the holidays

It’s not too late to plant conditioned daffodils that will bloom in time for your Christmas and New Year gatherings.

bulbs

If you are forcing bulbs in November or early December, it takes only five weeks to make them mature and bloom. Tazetta-type bulbs don’t have to stand in the refrigerator for weeks before planting. They are conditioned with sunshine and nutrients before they go dormant.

The bulbs have names such as Paperwhite, Soleil d’Or, Chinese Sacred, Avalanche and Silver Chimes. Whichever you decide on, select the largest, healthiest-looking bulbs you can find. Large bulbs can produce up to 12 blooms per spike and bloom over a six-week period.

How to plant bulbs indoors

* For the best show, choose a long, low container. It’s good to have a drainage hole. If it doesn’t, you will have to tip the planter to pour out excess water.

* Fill the container two-thirds to the top with potting soil, sand, gravel, pebbles or marbles, Bulbs will grow in any of these, but potting soil is more likely to hold the plants upright.

* Place the bulbs with pointed ends up and touching each other or close together. Then fill soil up to a half-inch from the top of the container. It’s OK if bulb tips peek through.

* Keep the soil and bulbs moist but don’t let the bulbs stand in water. Set the container in a bright place with filtered sun. Turn it every two to three days so plants grow up straight.

* To speed up the blooming period, put the container in full sun and find a warm spot for it at night.