Thursday, December 16, 2010

Under the Mistletoe

I remember when I first learned that mistletoe was a parasite, that you used a shotgun to get it down (the brave and reckless climbed) and that a profit could be made from selling those gatherings. It was in the dead of winter, and my childhood friend and I were playing around a large black oak. Barren of leaves, you could see to the top. That tree, unlike most large oaks, had a sturdy branch hanging low enough for one of us to reach if the other offered a leg up. Hanging upside down, I spotted the luscious greenery waaaaay up high in the very tip-top of that tree. My curiosity led me to my grandmother who promptly told me more than I wanted to know about mistletoe. The gathering interested me the most - still does. The fact is, mistletoe and holly gathering were the sole means of a winter income for some Appalachian dwellers. In my search for more information I found this article from the New York Times dated December 29, 1901 discussing the virtues and profits gained by those in the Southern Appalachian regions who harvested the - at the time - very abundant Eastern species.

Mistletoe seems to be one of those Christmas traditions that is losing its place in the contemporary holiday. It's a shame, I think. But I've succumb to the overwhelming powers of a hectic holiday season, and I nearly forgot it this year as well. For me, though, Christmas is about keeping traditions and occasionally making new ones. And this one reminds me of my old people...

At Christmas, it always had a place in the doorway of my great grandmother's house. Anyone caught using that door frame as a lean-to would get a smooch from her for sure! It always made me giggle to see others find themselves standing underneath. They'd usually blush and quickly find a new place to stand. I don't blame them really. I did, too.

Bright and joyous,
Happiness and cheer,
No time to spare!
You know it's here.

A hectic season -
A collection of days - 
A short time span -
called "The Holidays."

Sometimes they're good
at making you blue,
stressing you out -
draining you, too!

There seems to be
no cure in sight -
no comfort zone -
just sleepless nights.

But with nine days left,
what's one to do?
Try this: Pucker up
and kiss a Coo!