LOGLINE A very special Christmas gift of love can turn weeds into wonder.
Twelve-year old Maria is inspired by her abuelita’s Christmas story about a poor girl’s heartfelt gift of weeds to the baby Jesus and how they turned into beautiful red flowers. Maria experiments with her own prayers and weeds . . . but nothing happens, and her humble gift is tossed away in disgust. Still hopeful, Maria’s bedtime prayer is for baby Jesus to please turn her weeds into flowers—and it works so well her entire room is filled with beautiful red poinsettias, inspiring the entire village.
Young Maria likes her abuelita’s stories, especially about los Cuentos de Navidad with los pastores, los ángeles, and los Reyes Magos. Maria, 12, lives en un pequeño pueblo in México and one particular afternoon, she runs to her grandmother’s house where she has a piñata full of candy. She looks at the weeds growing along the sidewalk in the dirt and thinks that much of her life feels like them. Then she runs up the wooden steps of her grandmother’s brightly painted casa and burst through la puerta. Her grandmother’s soft, black cat named Bonita, who loves to tickle Maria with her tail, greets her. She asks her grandmother to tell her a story, curls up in her grandma’s wooden chair and rests her head on a rainbow-colored blanket, eating candy and listening to the story, which goes like this:
"There once was a poor Mexican girl named Pepita, who had no money to buy a gift to give the baby Jesus. Her cousin Pedro told her that even the smallest gifts of love make Jesus happy. Noticing the weeds on the side of the road, Pepita picked a small handful of weeds and made them into a bouquet. When she walked into the church, she felt ashamed that she only had this small gift to give the baby Jesus. While placing the weeds at the Nativity scene in the church, she said a quiet prayer with tearful eyes. Then she blinked, not believing her eyes: the weeds changed into a bouquet of bright red flowers. It was a miracle. Since that night, everyone knows the Legend of the ‘Flowers of the Holy Night.’ Most people call the flowers ‘Christmas Poinsettias’ and see the plant as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem."
Maria decides to try an experiment on Christmas Eve. She collects every weed she can find—big, small, and dirty—then hurries to el belén at the church’s altar. She gives Jesus her weeds. She takes off her red sweater and wraps the baby in it. Then Maria gently arranges all the members del belén, making sure they are standing in their proper places. The next morning, Maria runs again a la Iglesia del Pueblo to see if the weeds have become las flores. When she peers through the window, she still only sees weeds at el belén and feels a bit worried. Later that night, Maria and her familia enter la Iglesia del Pueblo with burning candles. There is a crowd gathered around the Nativity scene, staring at the weeds in disgust. The priest unwraps el niño Jesús from Maria’s red sweater and throws it in the trash behind the pulpit. Tears stream down Maria’s mejillas color rojo brillante. She runs out of la Iglesia as fast as she can.
Despite the taunting from the congregation, Maria picks more weeds and fills sus bolsillos as full as possible. She crawls into su cama, pulling up the covers, praying: “Por favor niño Jesús, change my weeds into flowers.” Early on Christmas morning, Maria feels something tickle her nose, thinking it might be la gata de su abuela. As she slowly opens her ojos, she realizes she is lying in una cama of bright red Christmas Poinsettias. She is excited to see that Christmas Poinsettias grow across the floor, ceiling, and every wall. Soon enough, the entire village believes the Legend of the Christmas Poinsettia and builds jardines de las flores rojas.
Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters