‘Tis the Season… to Learn More About Mistletoe!

MerryChristmasMistletoeIn the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to take this opportunity to declare something a bit embarrassing about myself, something that my boyfriend recently brought to my attention:  I honestly don’t know what mistletoe is.

Patrick and I were at Home Depot gathering some supplies for our holiday decorations and I saw a beautiful ball of greenery decorated with red ribbon and berries.  “Ooh!” I shouted. “Mistletoe!  I want this!”

But I heard him laughing at me before I was even able to remove the plant from the hanger and put it in my basket.  With a very matter-of-fact attitude, he told me that the item of my eye wasn’t mistletoe, and then proceeded to ask me the serious question: “Do you know even what mistletoe is?”  I think I sputtered something about it’s a plant.  “Right…,” he said, waiting for more of my explanation.  “And it has berries?” I guessed.

But before he could answer or I could talk my way out of the situation, I accepted defeat and realized I probably couldn’t differentiate a mistletoe plant from another plant if my life depended on it.

So guess what?  I did a little research, Patrick bought me some mistletoe (as seen above), and now I want to share some of the interesting facts I learned along the way:

  • Mistletoe can be recognized by its smooth-edged oval evergreen leaves. (Jackpot!)
  • The berries on mistletoe are not red, but white.  They usually appear in dense clusters ranging from two to ten, depending on the species. It is the red berries of Holly that often get confused with mistletoe.
  • Mistletoe is actually considered a parasite!  The mistletoe attaches itself and penetrates high up on the branches of trees and absorbs water and nutrients from the host.  It can stunt the tree’s growth and even kill it due to the heavy infestation.
  • If ingested, the plant will cause acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, diarrhea, and a low pulse.  (What is romantic about this plant again? haha)
  • According to Smithsonian.com, the act of kissing under a mistletoe can be attributed to a Norse legend, where the God Baldur feared that everything was trying to kill him.  His mother, the goddess Frigga, then begged every living thing to spare her son’s life.  It is said that she failed to ask  or notice the mistletoe.  Low and behold, Baldur was ultimately killed with an arrow made of mistletoe, and we hang it over our heads to be reminded to never to forget it again.
  • Other legends say that the mistletoe is magic so we hang it above our doors for luck.  Another legend says it is a symbol of fertility, since the seeds of mistletoe are sticky like, well, let’s just say, a male fluid.
  • Technically, mistletoe etiquette calls for a berry to be removed when he kisses a woman underneath the plant.  When all the berries are gone, there’s no more kissing permitted underneath that plant.

So now that we have some more knowledge about mistletoe under our belts, it’s time to get ready for the most wonderful time of the year!  With less than two weeks until Christmas, I think I pretty much have my gifts in order and I am trying not to forget anyone.  How’s your shopping going?  If I don’t post until then, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope your holiday season is filled with joy and love, and that maybe you even find yourself stealing a kiss under a mistletoe.  🙂

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Flashback Friday – Stop and Smell the Roses (Or lilacs!)

As I was going through some old photos to inspire today’s Flashback Friday post, I noticed a pattern.  Check these out and I’m sure you’ll see what I’m talking about:

I'm mad at 1 year old self for not smiling in this photo!

I’m mad at 1 year old self for not smiling in this photo!

Me, my dad, and my younger brother Timmy

Me, my dad, and my younger brother Timmy

When I saw these pictures I just thought they were the most delightful and eye-opening photos (even if I am crying in the first one… grrr).  The photos are different years, and I’m sure that myself and my parents were in different mindsets at each of those stages of our lives.  I mean, I’m probably wearing diapers in the first picture and in the second I was already probably already bossing people around, organizing my own pretend classroom, and hoarding various collections of sorts, while trying to take over the world (yes, that’s the type of kid I was…)    Anyway, I just love this here photo evidence where my Dad is reminding us to stop… and smell the lilacs.

Before I get into that, let me backtrack on my original thoughts of this blog post – which have to do with my Dad.  It is so fitting that he is making us take a break from playing or whatever we were probably doing at that time to smell the flowers.  I am well aware that I get some amazing qualities from my mom… loyalty, a tireless work ethic, the mindset that I can do anything I put my mind to, and more, but I’ve always believed that my dad provided me with just the right amount of opposing qualities to keep me balanced and well-rounded.

My dad seriously being the coolest guy I know.  I mean, c’mon.. did you look at that first picture?  How much cool, calm, and collected can you get!  He’s rocking Ray Ban aviators and a plaid shirt, while holding flowers… lol.  That’s a real man!  He knows the coolest bands and music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.  He keeps an even tan year-round, and he rocks skate/surf tees and tanks.  Oh, I forgot to mention he owned a toy store on Main Street in our town for until I was 18.  The. Coolest. Dad.  Just try to compete with that one, lol.

Anyway, it is just fitting that this laid back, cool Dad is showing us how to appreciate the little things in life.   When life seems out of control, I need to remind myself to look at or think of these photos.  To remind myself to not get caught up in my crazy schedule, the next thing on my to-do list, or planning for the future.  I need to promise myself to stop and appreciate each and every little aspect of beauty in life – whether its nature, alone time, or the company of family or friends.  To not focus on material things.  To not worry about who is doing what or if I’m missing out on something.  Or maybe to stop worrying if I’m on the right path.  Maybe this photo will help me remember just to close my eyes, take a deep breath in, and appreciate where I am in the here and now.

Challenge delightfully accepted.  🙂

– Jessi