Furrows, be glad. Though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Rose, is on the way.

Eleanor Farjeon

It has been a Christmas of gold and silver dawns, spiced keen and fragrant by frost; of hushed twilights that wash my little world in a glory of rose-light before fading into the heart-piercing loveliness of a lavender dusk. It has been a Christmas for French carols at the piano and reunions so happy they hurt and red velvet ribbons tied around oranges and homemade candy with specific loved ones in mind. A Christmas of pretty dresses and lazy breakfasts by the fire. Of catnip mice and flaming plum pudding and a host of small children in Christmas finery chasing one another around my backyard in the pale gilding of a winter afternoon. It has been a Christmas for bright new things and blessed old things.

And it has been a Christmas for roses.

I knew that well before the season was upon us, back in the clear, longing spaces of November. I knew it by the thrill of Hope that is the faithful herald of this most beloved of times. And I knew it by the searing stab of that thorn which I’ve carried with me for so long and which only seems to press more deeply into my heart during this season which I love best. I can trace the state of my soul in years past by the Christmases which called for roses. And this was definitely one of them.

Roses at Christmas are my personal statement of faith; my version of perfume, lavished before the coming King. They are my profession that all is well—not because life is perfect or every desire has been accomplished, but because He is. Because He came among us, and He’s still here when Christmas is over. They are my confession that Christmas is not about me and that the wilderness will blossom as the rose, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. I need to be reminded of these things—often. And I am such a visual person that the sight of roses mingling among my Christmas greens is a constant grounding, a tangible witness of His beauty, present even in the desert places of our lives.

Thou meetest him that rejoiceth, and worketh righteousness… For years now that has been the standard I have borne before me in all my preparations for Christmas; a torch flaming in the darkness. And He does meet us, in our most broken places. And He does work wonders—miracles—even if they are so hidden in the depths of our hearts only He can see them. But miracles, no less.

Christmas roses are my way of taking joy; a wordless ‘thank You’ and ‘I love You’ and ‘Come quickly’ spelled out in blood-red blooms couched amid a nest of ivy leaves and thorn-crowned holly.

The frozen air perfuming
That tiny bloom doth swell ;
Its rays the night illuming,
The darkness quite dispel.
O flower beyond compare
Bloom in our heart’s midwinter;
Restore the springtime there.

Theodore Baker