Mistletoe-tally bizarre

December 10, 2008

Charles MashalllA lot of odd little customs have somehow become attached to the Christmas season.

Take mistletoe, for example. What an amazing concept! Hang a little twig over someone’s head and you get a kiss. I guess that makes sense. Nothing says romance like a poisonous sprig of parasitic vegetation.

I’m not sure how the mistletoe custom began, but my guess is that it probably was invented by some guy that couldn’t get a date. Just have a little greenery on hand and it’s no longer just a girl innocently standing beneath a tree-weed. It’s an opportunity for a date.

Mistletoe is one of those strange cultural anomalies where one innocently wanders into a behavioral minefield and then suffers the consequences for his ignorance. It’s a lot like getting pinched for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, or getting slapped for opening the door for a women’s libber. The rule is: If you stumbled into the minefield, then you had it coming.

It’s really shocking to think of all the behavior that is excused because of this one little twig. And many examples of this behavior are contained within Christmas songs.

The song that irritates me most is I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. It’s bad enough that Santa is smooching on this kid’s mom, but the singer is so passive about the whole thing that it just drives me crazy. His family is under attack, and all this kid can do is stand around and sing about it. You’d think that instead of blathering on about the situation, he’d man up and defend his mom and family. I’d like to see something like that in the song:

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus,
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
So I took my baseball bat
And gave Santa Claus a whack–
I don’t think he’ll try kissing Mom
The next time he comes back!
Oh, I saw Santa limping out the door…

I would find a verse like that extremely satisfying.

And then there’s Burl Ives singing Holly Jolly Christmas. The song begins innocently enough, but then Burl slips in the phrase:

Oh ho, the mistletoe hung where you can see
Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me.

Hey, Burl? My love life is none of your business and frankly, I think it’s a little creepy that you’re conveying a wish for me to give my girl some sugar for you. Tell you what, you go get your own girl and leave mine alone. As a matter of fact, if you don’t, I know a kid with a baseball bat who’s not afraid to use it.

And then there’s The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting …) where the singer tells us …

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright

Wow, there’s a guy down on his luck, huh? You know your life is tough if you are goal-setting for a meal and a little affection.

Wait a minute. That sounds a lot like my life. Well, scratch that last point then.

The point of a kiss, though, is making a connection with another human being. Connection is a good thing. I believe we humans are made for it. There is something within us that fundamentally needs to connect with other humans – to humans and to God.

In fact, the whole point of Christmas is connection. Somewhere around a couple thousand years ago, God made a phenomenal effort to reunite with his kids and because of that effort we now have a choice in our eternal destiny.

It’s not magic. It’s not religion. It’s simply a dad caring so much for his kids that he’d give anything to connect with them.

So, have a wonderful celebration of this amazing connection that we call “Christmas.” Hang the mistletoe, eat some turkey, and, if you happen to see someone standing under the tree-weed, be sure to kiss her once for me.

Hey, Burl might’ve had a point.

Charles Marshall is a Christian comedian and author. Visit his website at charlesmarshallcomedy.com