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Posted December 18, 2011



Duchess Tula Belle of Oxford, Mississippi, a.k.a. Tootie, here.

Guess you've been wondering where I've been. There's so much going on and it's been kinda crazy and I've been sorta busy trying to get through this year's holidays that have caught up with me like a runaway freight train on downhill track.

But to catch you up on what's been going down: As some of you know from last year's Christmas blogs, Rudy was left behind when Santa didn't know he was missing as point reindeer at the front of the team pulling the sleigh. Seems that with Santa's new GPS system, he doesn't really need a red nose beacon lighting up the way to the chimneys of good little boys and girls and those who sent letters saying, "But Santa, I can explain."

Anyway, Rudy can be a real pig about things when it comes to Christmas candy.

Especially my Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark that Uncle Marty sends us at Christmas. He's big buds with the head honchos that keep the secret recipe under lock and key.

This year, I was trying to stash some, you know, save them for later when the pest was outside checking out mulberry bushes. So, missing something sweet to munch on, Rudy thought he'd try some of the red poinsettia leaves from the plants Mom and Dad used to decorate the house this year. They were in every room making me think I was living in a flower hothouse!

Mom and Dad freaked and had to try to locate a vet who knew how to pump out reindeer stomachs because they'd always heard that if dogs ate poinsettia plants, it could be the moment a four-legged critter could buy the farm. They spoke in code in front of Rudy but of course, I knew when they talked about him maybe buying the farm, the sweet by and by, and the possibility Rudy could be looking at the other side of the grass, they really meant he could croak. Nothing to do with frogs, but everything to do with pushing up daisies.

Ohhhhh, let's not upset the reindeer but let's put Tootie on a guilt trip because she doesn't like sharing her Peppermint Bark.


I told them not to get all bent out of shape and Googled the word *poinsettia.* And I don't care if the word does have an "i" before the "a," down South, we call it a poinsett-a (a sounding like an uh). Here's what we found out:

Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and he introduced America to the plant in 1828 after discovering it in the wilderness in southern Mexico. The good doctor dabbled in botany when he wasn't playing politics between nations and sent plant cuttings back to his home in South Carolina. Though it took awhile for the plant to become a holiday hit, by the 20th century it was a mainstay Christmas decorating staple.

Now, there are different stories about this popular Christmas plant that comes in several colors. Some believe it's a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem, the heavenly body that led the wise men, or the three magi, to the stable manger where Christ was born. Another legend from Mexico tells of a girl whose only offering to Jesus on Christmas Eve was weeds. When she brought the weeds into a church, they blossomed into the beautiful red plants we know as poinsettias, known as Flores de Noche Buena in Mexico (Spanish for "flowers of the holy night"). Kind of gives new meaning to Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Now these stories were all interesting, but reading down, I finally came to the part about the plant being poisonous if eaten. It's nothing but a myth! Of course Mom and Dad breathed a sigh of relief when they found out Rudy wasn't going to croak, although it's probably not a good idea to have a poinsettia eating competition with poinsettia bracts since they could cause diarrhea. Heh-heh. Poor Rudy.

However, research has shown that a child could consume as many as 500 poinsettia bracts without any toxic effects. A tot who accidentally nibbles on a leaf may not feel up to snuff, but the consequences won't be fatal. And I can't help but wonder how many kids volunteered to be guinea pigs for the poinsettia experiment? Maybe some of those who wrote the notes, "But Santa, I can explain."?

Anyway, I guess Rudy's going to be around for awhile though he'll be checking out the mulberry bushes even more frequently because of those dastardly side effects. (And I've been to Mexico a couple of times and there's something to be said about Montezuma's Revenge. It is no myth.) And now I'm really feeling guilty about not sharing. Heh-heh. Yeah right. And I've got a bridge to sell you...

Uncle Marty, send more Peppermint Bark!

Comments anyone?

If you would like to comment or have questions about this article, email me vmoss@livingwaterfiction.com

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