Mistletoe Kisses!


On our drive home from Nashville this weekend, I couldn’t help lamenting (again) the barrenness of the deciduous trees along the way. But then I started to notice the plentiful clusters of mistletoe in many of those trees. Then I remembered my daddy shooting down the mistletoe every Christmas from an old oak tree in our back yard. My sister and I would tie a few sprigs together and hang them over every doorframe in the house. Our mother never liked this tradition. “Parasites,” she’d complain. “Mistletoe is a parasite that feeds off of living trees. Why we bring it inside and hang it over the door is beyond me”! She said this every year but it didn’t keep us from hanging the parasite all over the house.

In my research for my book Yuletide Blessings, I found out why mistletoe is still a beloved traditional decoration and why we feel compelled to use this as an excuse to steal a kiss from whoever happens to stand under it. Here’s some of what I found.

 Pagans are the original tree-huggers – believing that gods inhabited vegetation. The Druids believed that mistletoe had great medicinal powers (the berries of certain species are actually poisonous). They also believed that it had spiritual power as well because it remained in treetops long after the tree’s leaves had fallen. Its longevity was like magic or a symbol from the gods. At some point, mistletoe became a symbol of friendship and reconciliation. It seems that when warring factions came upon a tree with mistletoe, it was interpreted as a sign of peace. Armies would often sit down underneath a mistletoe-laden tree and make vows of peace using the gods of the plant as witnesses to the pact.

 Longevity. That’s what I’ve been thinking about.

D&N wedding kiss

This coming Saturday, December 21st  Dennis and I will celebrate 39 years of marriage. Thirty-nine years! I know that’s not an eternity (though sometimes each of us has thought so) but it’s a really long time.

Yet it seems like just yesterday.

I can sometimes still feel those uncomfortable new peau de soie shoes I wore as I walked down the center aisle of my home church. I can still hear the Widor Toccata wedding recessional being played by the organist as we walked out as husband and wife. I can still taste the cheese straws (that Dennis and I hand made) that we served at the reception. So long ago, yet still somehow fresh.

Like the mistletoe tradition, we pray for longevity and peace. Unlike mistletoe’s reality, with its obscure traditional significance and parasitic qualities, we pray that our next 39 years will grow deeper and our need for each other to stay healthy.

(We also pray that no one tries to shoot us down with a shotgun.)

Happy anniversary, babe!

5 thoughts on “Mistletoe Kisses!

  1. judi

    Love this!!! So good to have seen you both and so upset I didn’t get to say goodbye. I am so blessed to know you both. Happy Anniversary!!



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