Monday, December 12, 2011

A Southern Tradition: Mistletoe Shooting

            I grew up in Pennsylvania and moved to Georgia when I was well past my formative years. I’ve now lived in the South for 22 years, but native Georgians still consider me a carpet-bagging Yankee. I will never be a “true” Southerner. It’s obvious that there are Southern traditions that I will never understand.

            Get this – there is a tradition in Georgia of decorating your house with mistletoe at Christmas. That’s not the weird part – we did that in PA, too. No, the weird part is that instead of buying your mistletoe at a store, in Georgia you’re supposed to shoot your mistletoe out of a tall tree using a 12 gauge double barreled shotgun.

            Bill Robinson of Decatur, GA (near Atlanta) decided not to travel to the woods this year to get his annual mistletoe. There was a fine bunch of the stuff at the top of a tree practically in his backyard. He took his shotgun out, fired one shot that brought down the mistletoe, put his gun away, collected his mistletoe and prepared to take it home. Unfortunately, a skittish shopper at the North DeKalb Mall had called the police when she saw the man with the gun in the mall parking lot. Mr. Robinson was arrested, believe it or not.

            When asked if he thought he wouldn’t get in trouble for firing a shotgun on mall property, Mr. Robinson answered, “I guess I assumed that everybody knew what I was doing.” How come I had never heard about this well-known, beloved Southern tradition before now? I guess it’s a secret not passed on to Yankees….