A Holiday Miracle: The Tale of the Ted Drewes Mistletoe

Even if we'd had no mistletoe plant, we may have been able to get by with Justin Bieber's song. - image via
Even if we'd had no mistletoe plant, we may have been able to get by with Justin Bieber's song.

Just so y'all know, the word mistletoe is Anglo-Saxon for "shit-on-a-twig." (Probably.) Does that still make you want to put on a Santa hat with a little sprig attached to the top and sidle up to your sweetie, lips all a-pucker?

If so, you will be distressed to hear that 2012 was almost The Year Without Mistletoe. At least in St. Louis. Droughts in Texas not only disrupted beef production, leading to more expensive steaks and hamburgers, they also disrupted the growth of mistletoe. Well, at least at the mistletoe farms that have traditionally supplied Ted Drewes, St. Louisans' favorite purveyor of holiday greenery.

"They didn't have any at all," confirms operations manager Chris Beckemeier.

So what happened next? Did employees of Ted Drewes embark on an epic road trip across America with a wacky animal sidekick, possibly even to the North Pole to petition Santa Claus himself? Was there laughter and adventure and clever songs and stop-motion animation?

Alas, no. "We did what everyone else does," says Buckemeier. "We did some Google searches."

Within minutes, Ted Drewes had a few new candidates for its mistletoe supplier. They were from California and Oregon, which were not as hard-hit by this summer's drought. Because Ted Drewes is a high-quality operation, it requested samples. In the end, a new mistletoe from Oregon was chosen.

"It's beautiful," says Buckemeier. "It looks better. They use a different preservative. Even the packaging looks better. Sometimes things just work out."

Indeed they do! The same ridiculous weather pattern that caused the drought gave us 70-degree temperatures this past weekend, the sort of weather that gives one the urge to go for some frozen custard and maybe peruse the Christmas greenery in the parking lot.

"If you're not in the market for a tree, you buy a wreath," says Buckemeier. "In warm weather, people get in the mood to decorate outside."

Oh, yeah, about that shit-on-a-twig business: Birds aid in the spread of mistletoe seed by eating the berries and then shitting out the seeds. With luck, some seeds will land on the twigs of bigger trees and sprout and grow.

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