A non-indigenous poisonous plant is the perfect "must-have" symbol of seasonal cheer.
The tiny inflorescences surrounded by large red leaves masquerading as flowers send a message of sincerity and friendliness which even the smallest child or pet cannot help but reach out to embrace.
We must purchase poinsettias in mind boggling numbers, import them, grow them in greenhouses, and display them everywhere at Christmas.
After all, this is a poisonous plant.
This is a plant that, although in its native middle eastern countries it will become a huge tree-like shrub, here in our climate it will die if planted outdoors.
This is a plant that will not bloom again without being locked in a dark closet with half an apple.
This is also the only plant I know of regularly sprayed with glitter glue by florists -- to what end I still do not know.
This, then, is a plant that can be left unwatered in a dusty corner of the house and guiltlessly thrown away after the parties. It is the perfect hostess gift, the perfect last minute gift, the perfect holiday decoration. Have several on hand, pick up extras at the grocery store, put some on the alter at church.
Surely the ease of disposal post-Christmas atones for any veterinary bills or accidental fatalities?
Because nothing, absolutely nothing, says "Happy Christmas" and "Thanks for inviting us to dinner" like a foil-wrapped plastic pot full of toxic phytochemicals.