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tulips in a vase on a white round table
tulips in a vase on a white round table
Photo by Ellie Dixon
Life > Experiences

A Bouquet A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

Perched behind the kitchen door jamb, I tried to catch a glimpse of what activity, or rather, what attempted activity was unfolding at our kitchen table. With his back turned to me, I watched my dad fiddle with a pre-packaged bouquet, unveiling flower by flower from the plastic and thoughtfully adding them to a water-filled vase. Equally shocked and amused at his concentration, I observed in precarious silence, waiting for a creak in the floor or a muffled laugh to give me away. 

This Sunday afternoon activity was a recent development, or so I thought. Having flowers in the house, while very much a joint effort by my parents, usually never required my dad to do the actual arranging. He headed the flower sourcing operation, which occurred alongside his weekly grocery shop and culminated with him depositing the flowers into a vase of his choosing with the plastic wrap still on. That way, my mom, the usual creative genius, could take over phase two: arrangement. Yet there he was, standing in his make-shift flower shop – the decades of exposure to my mom’s floral aptitude clearly infused into his green thumbs. 

flowers on a white table with two books
Photo by Ellie Dixon

When I decided to quit my forsaken hiding spot to confront him about this new practice, he was bewildered at my own bewilderment. After my questioning, he jokingly fired back at me with the same exasperated sarcasm that proved the apple did indeed not fall far: “am I not allowed to want some fresh flowers around here?” 

So, there we were: just a dad who wanted some flowers around the house and a daughter who was too shortsighted to see that in the first place. Quite an unusual pair. Or so I thought, and he did not. 

For so long after this, I associated fresh flowers with home: matching ivory orchids on the kitchen island, baby pink peonies on my dresser, peach tulips on the breakfast table, lush green ferns in the living room. Each was a sign that my parents had been there, one picking and one fixing, working their arrangement magic. 

tulips in a vase on a white round table
Photo by Ellie Dixon

When I went off on my gap-year and eventually off to live in a dorm, the quotidian absence of flowers made perfect sense in my head – no parents in the tri-state area, no more multitudes of bouquets. And while my various roommates and I would have flowers around every now and again, birthdays and Valentine’s and such, it was never the same as having them be a constant, rather than a once in a while pleasure. 

On Valentine’s Day this year I asked my Dad if he bought my mom flowers, and he told me he didn’t feel like flowers were special enough anymore. Not because they had decades of Valentine’s Days under their belts, but because buying flowers was something that they both just did all the time for each other. At this point I realized that it had become something of a love language of their own. Seemingly unspecial to them perhaps, but from the outside, just the opposite. 

brown wood desk with flowers and a plant
Photo by Ellie Dixon

While I may not have realized it at first, I know that their flower love language is coded in my genes, maybe just as much as theirs. Anytime that I have flowers in my current room, I find myself gravitating towards them, snapping a picture of them in gray afternoon sunlight or looking up at them when collecting my thoughts while writing.

Though my Trader Joe’s bouquets may look less grand than the ones my parents whip up at home, the effect remains remarkably identical: a way to breathe life and vibrance into the spaces we frequent, along with a host of mood-boosting benefits. And despite all the wellness perks and the relative simplicity of the practice itself, it is still a practice that I am trying to be more regular about, a practice that genes can only do so much to move along. And when it comes down to it, if all it takes to have fresh flowers around is swapping out a latte for a bouquet every week, then that is a sacrifice I am willing to make ten times over.

It is my ultimate hope to someday make flowers “unspecial” through abundance. Instead of only viewing bouquets as a way to treat ourselves or others, I hope to view flowers as a dependable means of making any place feel like “home.” If each five dollar bouquet eventually leads me to be standing over a half-filled vase surrounded in flower trimmings decades from now, that’s when I’ll know that my parents’ flower practice is much more than a love language. Rather, it is a gift that keeps on giving.

Ellie is a second-year Global Studies major at UCLA, from Charlotte, NC. Her favorite author is Sally Rooney, and she loves re-reading books, playing field hockey, cooking for friends, and photographing them on her camera. In the summer, you can find her in downtown Manhattan peeking into a vintage store or writing in a coffee shop.