Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Sisters

Sometimes it feels like I have two sisters.  I don't, I just have the one. But, it's hard to grasp that the addiction riddled, organ-killing, homeless person is the same sister I grew up with.

I was remembering this morning, a fond memory of our childhood in Oklahoma. My mother was sending us up trees to collect mistletoe for the holidays.  All three of us kids were tree climbers, but Melody was the best.  She could climb higher and longer than either Will or I.  She was fearless.

Not a word I can use anymore in conjunction with her name.

I wish I had advice for others facing a similar disconnect with loved ones. But I don't.
She was a bright, athletic, normal sort of kid. She was a high maintenance teenager, but who isn't? Did she fall in with too many drinkers in high school?  Was she genetically predisposed to alcoholism?  Maybe.
Was there more we could have done as a family? I doubt it.  She's had more help and more opportunities than many young adults get. We've tried interventions, tough love, no-strings-attached love, none of it seems to help.
It can't help, not until she decides to quit her addictions, and that's the only fight we can't fight for her.
It can't help, not until she loves herself as much as we love her.
Not until she stops trying to fill the holes in her life with alcohol or the latest man/boy/sugar-daddy.

I know, logically, that there's a good chance she'll die before she gets to that point.  That is almost too painful to contemplate.  I want to delete it from this page, and never think about it or write it again. But, something stays my hand. Something in me needs to have that out in the open where it can't fester in the dark and quiet corners of my head.

Give your loved ones an extra hug this year when you see them. Count your blessings if they are whole and happy and leading productive lives.  For those of you fighting through the pain of addiction, your own or a loved ones, know that you're not alone. Find a support group, or make your own if you need to.

Let's go back to that happy memory of the mistletoe, that's a lot nicer to write about.

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on trees and bushes. Birds eat the ripe (white) seeds and then as they clean their beaks on branches of trees, the seeds get "planted" for the next generation. The mistletoe has no roots of its own. What it does have is tiny extensions called holdfasts, that grip onto the bark of the host plant. They also serve as a sort of umbilical cord, and suck the nutrients from the host. Because of its dependence on the host, mistletoe is only found on living trees. Mistletoe plants can be either female or male; only the female has the beautiful but highly toxic berries.

Mistletoe as decoration during the dark of winter is an old tradition. Predating Christianity. In the old druid and pagan traditions Mistletoe represented the Green Lord, or Saturn.   

No one loves a party like the ancient Romans, and their festival of Saturnalia is one of the most well-documented celebrations of the Winter Solstice. This week-long bacchanal included exchanging of gifts, lots of food and wine, dancing and music. Slaves got the week off work, courts were closed, and all kinds of debauchery took place. This festival honored Saturn, of course, and he was an agricultural god. To keep him happy, fertility rituals took place under the mistletoe. Today, we don't quite go as far under our mistletoe (at least not usually) but it does explain where the kissing tradition comes from.

:-D See, much more interesting than you may have thought.
Go send your kids up a tree for some mistletoe if you live in an area where they grow.  I've not seen any since we moved to Iowa, so I think it needs warmer locations. Good Luck! Happy Holidays!


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