Who would guess that selling Christmas cheer would drive out fear?
I pulled into the driveway just before the December dusk spread its blanket over the Oklahoma sky. As I opened my car door, I gasped. A mangled mess of tree branches were strewn all over my yard.
What in the world?
As my eyes adjusted to the fading sun, I realized that my brother had been by. I had asked Bruce to be on the lookout for “a little mistletoe” when he cut down trees. Was this his idea of a little? Covering every square inch of my yard was more than enough of the pucker plant for Rockefeller Center. I had never seen so much kistletoe.
That’s when I got my bright idea. Maybe it was a streak of mommy madness but this sudden entrepreneurial fever would not go away. What a great opportunity to teach my son Garrett some valuable life lessons, I thought. He could sell mistletoe!
Never mind that I hated any kind of fundraisers. Collecting money for cookie dough and doughnut cards filled me with a shot of fear and a heavy dose of dread. But this wasn’t a fund raiser. It was a fungus raiser. And all the money would go to feed my children.
Forgetting all of my manners, I ran down the hall and burst into Garrett’s room, interrupting the huddle with his virtual football game. Garrett’s eyes were fixated on the screen.
“Hey Garrett, how would you like to make some extra Christmas money?”
His fingers grasped the remote control and without looking up, his lips muttered, “Sure, Mom.”
That was it. He was in! This was as excited as I’d seen Garrett in months. I could tell because he used a complete sentence. At 13, Garrett was at the age where his entire vocabulary consisted of a standard repertoire of four canned grunts—huh, hey, wassup, and k, (short for okay) are sufficient to communicate in a variety of daily venues. Proper enunciation takes energy better reserved for more strenuous activities like playing video games or his guitar. The fact that Garrett’s response could be found in the dictionary, however, was proof of his genuine excitement.
It must something about the teenage years. Hormonal activity that causes growth spurts and flood pants has a reverse affect on vocabulary. I’ve heard it’s temporary and it must be true. My husband speaks fluent Yesdear and he hasn’t needed to shop for new trousers in years.
With Garrett’s exuberant endorsement of my industrial endeavor, I plunged into his marketing campaign by making some signage and embellishing each clump of the kissing holly with red metallic ribbon. When the last bunch was finished, Garrett was ready to trade the green plant for some valuable green paper.
“Mom, Let’s go do this!”
That’s when the realization hit me. If he were going to sell it, I would have to go with him. My vision for this festive emporium of economic effort only involved Garrett standing on the street corner. I had pictured him dressed in a holiday sweater stationed in front of a long line of eager customers with cheerful smiles waiting to buy all he had. I never thought about how awkward I might feel if I were standing alongside him holding a sign and a bag. What would people think?
By now, however, Garrett was counting his profits. I had no choice but to face my giants—Fear and Intimidation. I did my best to hide my hesitation. After all, it was my idea but now I had to deal with the sudden onslaught of internal accusations. Garrett never considered that he might look too old for a wintry rendition of a lemonade stand. Isn’t there a maximum age limit for this sort of thing? I wondered. Shaking in the freezing temperatures, I plastered a smile on my face and waved at the passing motorists.
Fake it ‘til you make it, I instructed myself.
Our first sale was to a middle-aged Casanova looking for some affection insurance. His clanking Pinto made a quick u-turn in the parking lot as soon as he noticed the incredible marketing display I had created. Ok, it was a hand held sign.
Our next client represented true market diversity. A smiling mom in a minivan extended her arm out the window and handed Garrett a five-dollar bill. “My kids used to do this every year,” she reminisced.
Yea, I’m not the only wacko mom in the world.
Pausing as she rummaged through her purse, she extracted two crumpled one-dollar bills. “Here’s a little extra for you, honey.”
That’s all it took. Garrett was officially hooked.
The next purchase was from a gray-haired gentleman who wanted to test out the product before he drove away. He held the mistletoe over his wife’s head and just like a trained pooch; she gave him an obligatory smooch.
“Works like a charm! Just wanted to make sure it wasn’t defective,” he shouted. “Merry Christmas!”
And so it went. Each customer made comments that will forever epitomize our mistletoe market. Despite the frigid air, we were making memories and money. But more important, the longer we stood on the street corner where we had staked our claim, the less intimidated I became. It was 30 degrees outside, but my fear had melted. I belonged here.
The next evening, notwithstanding my protests, our family went to see Rocky Balboa. I’m much more into chick flicks, but it was my husband’s turn to pick. Sigh. But the profound observation by Rocky’s brother-in-law made all the blood and sweat worth enduring. Paulie’s divine reflection encapsulated my enterprise at the fungus fair: “If you stay in a place long enough, you become that place.”
God used mistletoe to help me face my giants. The longer I stood my ground, the smaller Fear and Intimidation became. And little by little, the more I increased. As for Garrett, the cash in his pocket inspired business expansion plans. He decided that next year he’d start early. He’ll be taking pre-orders for mistletoe in November.