On Christmas Eve, Judy sent me out to buy some mistletoe.
"It'll give the house a fresh, 'Christmasy' kind of feel," she explained.
So I drove to the local garden center and asked the somewhat "fish-eyed" looking girl behind the counter if she had any mistletoe.
"We sure do," she said with a decisively southern twang.
Now, her accent should have indicated that something was seriously wrong. Like most northerners, I hear a southern accent and I think "Oh, this person is an idiot," or, "Jerry Springer." But since it was Christmas and I was feeling somewhat charitable, I hung around and let her show me the mistletoe.
From a cardboard display that looked like it once housed car deodorizers, little plastic bags marked with the words "Fun Time Mistletoe!" hung.
The counter girl started with the hard sell. "It's real mistletoe...they just freeze dry it so it stays fresh longer," she said. "The berries are fake because they're poisonous or something."
I picked up a bag and looked closely at the product inside. The plastic crinkled. The "mistletoe" was hard and an unnatural color of green.
"This is real mistletoe?" I challenged.
"Yup," she said. "Just freeze-dried. They stick it in a freezer. Makes it last longer."
"And when I take it home," I said slowly, "it will 'spring to life' and look 'Christmasy'?"
She started to get defensive. "Yup, it should... I don't see why not. It's real mistletoe."
So I ponied up the $2.17 and took the plastic package home. Needless to say, Judy wasn't impressed. However, it made my daughter very happy.
She stood under the mistletoe doling out "Christmas Kisses!" for the better part of the day. Even the cats got their share.