My mother-in-law's oversized Christmas cactus was always teeming with blooms this time of year.

The abundance of perfect pink flowers were a marvelous sight to behold each year as we'd take our post-Christmas trek across the mountains and plains to northeast Colorado. After stopping in Denver for lunch we'd continue on Interstate 76 for the final two hours of the six-hour drive.

The Plains seem to have a flair for generating their own weather. Often, just past Fort Morgan, we'd keep close watch on the dark and ominous clouds on the horizon that crept low to the ground. The sunbeams that had followed us from Grand Junction to that point would be swallowed like quicksand by the wintry weather phenomenon. Temperatures could drop — from a balmy 52 degrees to a bitter 21 degrees in a matter of minutes and snow flurries would begin to pirouette outside the car window, eventually building up on the road.

Upon our arrival, we'd unload gifts and travel bags from the car and trudge through the accumulated inches of wind-drifted snow, braving the chill before stepping into the warmth inside. The gray and dismal outdoors would give way to the beauty of the season inside, in the presence of that breathtaking, pink-adorned plant.

When my mother-in-law died in October 2018, the Christmas cactus was the only plant in her house. She had a green thumb in her younger years, but as her health deteriorated, it was difficult for her to tend to the greenery.

While in town for her services, a number of relatives took cuttings from the cactus. I had never had any luck with a Christmas cactus and was bound and determined that my cutting would make it home safely — in her honor.

Imagine the thrill when I saw tiny buds forming on the planted cuttings, just a few weeks later, and the subsequent pink blooms that opened, leading up to and beyond Christmas Day.

Tiny buds have formed again this year and I am just like the child who is eagerly awaiting Santa's arrival — I'm ready for these "gifts" to open.

Chinle Cactus and Succulent Society will meet from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Thursday at Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 536 Ouray Ave.

Guests are welcome. Don Campbell will present on the "Chinle Cactus Club 20th Anniversary" in celebration of the milestone, according to the GJSentinel.com calendar listing.

"We will also have a plant drawing, a short business meeting and a social break," the listing says.

Email Kate Weissenburger at kate@chinlecactusclub.org, call 773-7637, or go to chinlecactusclub.org for information.

Mesa County Colorado School and Public Employees Retirement Association will host a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Grand Vista Hotel, 2790 Crossroads Blvd.

Retired PERA members, those nearing retirement, and their guests are invited. Cost of the lunch is $17. The Central High School Show Choir will perform and association President Nancy Carlson is the featured speaker. A gift exchange will follow.

Call 361-8053 for reservations by Wednesday.

The Mount Garfield Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will celebrate the holiday season with its traditional Christmas potluck and bakery sale at its monthly meeting on Saturday.

Call 719-580-0948 for information.

Quilts of Valor (Grand Valley Valor Quilters) will benefit from a book fair from 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 2451 Patterson Road.

Proceeds will enable quilters to purchase additional fabrics, batting and supplies for its quilting needs.

The Grand Valley group organized in August 2015 and meets at 9:30 a.m. the third Monday of each month in the Ed Bozarth Community Room, 2595 U.S. Highway 6&50.

"Since Quilts of Valor's inception in November 2003, thousands of quilters have worked together in groups across the U.S. in support of this volunteer organization and its mission to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor," a news release said.

More than 239,000 quilts have been created by volunteers and presented to service members and veterans as expressions of gratitude for one's service and sacrifice or to say, "welcome home" to individuals returning from deployment.

Call Sue Schore at 270-0804 or Shar Weiser, 245-5422, or email valorquilters@gmail.com for information.

A heartfelt "thank you" goes out to all who donated to make this year's Wreaths Across America program successful.

Western Slope Patriot Guard Riders will place wreaths on gravesites throughout the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado and the Veterans Section of the Orchard Mesa Cemetery beginning at 3 p.m. Friday. Volunteers wanting to help should be at either cemetery office by 2:45 p.m.

The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery and will last about 30 minutes. Those attending should take their own seating.

Call 263-8986 for information.

Wheels West and Just for Fun Car clubs invite everyone to its annual toy run, starting with coffee and doughnuts at 8 a.m. Saturday at Performance Radiator, 1915 Interstate 70 Business Loop.

"Whether you're a club member or not, have a specialty vehicle or not — we don't care — it's all about bringing some comfort to a child that's going through a difficult time," says the Facebook event page.

Participants should "bring as many new stuffed toys as you can." The toy run will make stops at local businesses to build a hand of poker, including ACME Chop Shop, Ed Bozarth Chevrolet and St. Mary's Medical Center (to tour the heli-pad).

The run will finish at O'Reilly Auto Parts, 2844 North Ave., where food will be available and participants will play the poker hands.

Submit Your Town and community news items by email to communitynews@gjsentinel.com, by fax at 244-8578, or by mail to 734 S. Seventh St., Grand Junction, CO, 81501. Online calendar items can be uploaded at GJSentinel.com/calendar.

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