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Pyne Needles
            by Ed Pyne, Publisher
Dewcember 18 2014
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our readers. This is a great time of year to be with family and friends and enjoy the holidays.
We especially want to wish the ISU Football Redbirds good luck in their playoff game in New Hampshire Saturday. The Birds were picked for 6th place in the conference in the preseason and Coach Spack and team have done very well with only one loss. If they win, next up would be the championship game in Texas!
We also want to thank those readers who have renewed their subscriptions for another year. We really appreciate your support. If you are a new subscriber or send a new gift subscription you will receive a $7.00 gift certificate from the generous folks at Avanti’s Italian Restaurant in Normal and Bloomington. See the coupon on Page 14.
One of my favorite traditions during the holidays is “kissing under the mistletoe.” I always wondered how such a great idea started. The answer follows.

The Origin of Kissing Under the Mistletoe
Perhaps you’ve attended a Christmas party and suddenly were caught off-guard by the innocent kiss of a stranger. To your surprise, you happened to be standing directly under a seemingly innocuous plant — mistletoe. Have you ever wondered where the tradition of a kiss beneath the mistletoe began?
There is no doubt that the Druids regarded mistletoe as sacred. They believed the missel thrush had brought the green plant from heaven, carrying it with its toes. That is how the “missel thrush’s toe,” said quickly, over time became mistletoe.
During the winter solstice, the season of both anxiety and festivity, the Druids decked their homes with holly, ivy and mistletoe; their greenness throughout the freezing winter represented eternal life. They burned mistletoe on their sacrificial alters as a symbol of hope and peace. This ritual probably established the custom that enemies would drop their weapons and embrace if they chanced to meet under the mistletoe. Our kissing custom may have begun with this ancient practice.
The ancient Norse had another view of the mistletoe tradition.
These people thought mistletoe was sacred because of Frigga, goddess of love and the mother of their sun god Balder. According to a Norse myth, Frigga became alarmed after Balder had a dream of death. She thought that if the sun god were to die, all life on earth would die. Frigga immediately secured a promise from all the gods in heaven and on earth, and every animal and plant that they would not harm her son. She missed one plant, mistletoe, which grew on the oak trees.
The jealous god of evil, Loki, sneaked into a dinner party the gods were having. Loki tricked the blind god of winter, Hoder, into shooting an arrow tipped with mistletoe at Balder. The arrow struck Balder, and the god was dead. The world mourned and all was dark.
At the end of three days of trying to bring Balder back to life, Frigga finally succeeded with her power of love. She was so joyful that she began to kiss everyone who passed under the tree where the mistletoe was growing, and she made a decree. Never again would the mistletoe do any harm, and anyone who stood under it would be rewarded with a kiss.

Cowboy AlFrom the ChimpersCage
by Web Editor, Alan Look

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Dewcember 13 2014
There will never be another one like him
Sally and I attended the local funeral service for Harry D. Fletcher Monday at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. Harry and his lovely wife, Carole, moved to Colorado after he retired as a pipefitter at Illinois State University.  A very nice tribute to one of the greatest guys you would ever want to meet. Harry always had a smile on his face, and it seemed like he was always waiting for the next joke or humorous story to come along. Seeing him was always a pleasure.
He didn’t mind telling stories about funny things that happened to him. He said he grew up in Mason City and played basketball on the grade school team, but he rarely got in the game. The coach told him if they got 30 points ahead he could go in.
The star of the team broke his belt buckle early in a game and thought he couldn’t play anymore. But, the quick thinking coach yelled down to Harry to take off his belt and pass it down to him. “You won’t need it.” Harry always smiled as he told the story.
Wouldn’t you know it, the team got 30 points ahead and the coach yelled down the bench, “Get in there Harry, we are 30 points ahead!” You would be excited also to finally get in a game. As Harry was running all by himself at mid-court and thinking of doing something special his pants fell down. Whenever he went back home, 30-50 years later, as Harry  told it he would always get a laugh when he walked down Main Street.
Actually, he will be remembered by everyone here as a good friend and who cares if you aren’t the star of the team.


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