"Then I thought of the mistletoe—hanging above the entrance to a home—right there in the doorway where all family members must pass to enter. And how we can use mistletoe this holiday season to remind us to “disarm ourselves, embrace, and refrain from combat.”
During our “holiday tradition” reading this year, I was reminded of the many characteristics of the mistletoe. I’ve always been a mistletoe fan—if my “mistletoe-ee” is nearby, of course. It hasn’t always been such a good thing—and the plant itself has some extremely negative traits. However, we can use the mistletoe for good by following the tradition of soldiers centuries ago.
The mistletoe is known as a “taker” and not a “giver.” It is a parasite that lives on the very life of another plant, causing the slow destruction of this host. The strange thing, however, is that once the “host plant” dies, the mistletoe dies as well.
Early settlers enjoyed decorating for Christmas with the mistletoe because of its decorative flowers and attractive berries. It grows in late November and stays green throughout the winter—all the way until spring. Back in those days, there were no other green plants available in winter to use as decorations.
Of course, we are all familiar with the common use for mistletoe—as a gathering spot beneath for kissing. Obviously, this can be a very good thing or a very bad thing. For years, our kids thought it was so cute to cart what looked like mistletoe around and hold it above Mom or Dad to illicit kisses between us. That is a good use for it! However, the obvious bad use is the promoting of promiscuity among those who have no business kissing.
The most interesting thing about mistletoe to me this year, and the reason for this post at all, is the custom from centuries ago that caused temporary peace to reign. This custom required enemies who met under a clump of mistletoe to disarm themselves, embrace, and refrain from combat for the remainder of the day.
Immediately upon reading that this year I thought of family members who are at war with one another. I thought of grown kids who are less than friendly with their very own parents. I thought of adult siblings who are not on speaking terms. And on and on. And I thought of our responsibility as Christians to not allow this brokenness to continue.
Then I thought of the mistletoe—hanging above the entrance to a home—right there in the doorway where all family members must pass to enter. And how we can use mistletoe this holiday season to remind us to “disarm ourselves, embrace, and refrain from combat.” We can use the simple mistletoe as our cue to enter with peace in our hearts, kindness on our tongues, and love in our souls. Furthermore, we can teach this to our children—that God calls us to live peaceably with all men, when it is in our power, and that Christmas time is the best time to re-invite that peace into our hearts and spread it to those family members whom we might not have always had peace with.