Many households have their Christmas decorations up–some since Thanksgiving. Camp Tilikum is blessed to have Christmas decorations up all year–maybe not the lights and ornaments we generally see, but we do have 93 acres of very large Christmas trees (some 150+ feet tall!). You might also spy a holly tree sprinkled in among the Douglas-firs. A plant that often goes unnoticed is the myriad of mistletoe that can be found growing in our older oak trees.
Mistletoe is spread by birds who eat the berries and deposit the leftovers in branches of trees. The undigested seeds adhere to the branch and begin to grow. Mistletoe is considered a parasite and will use the host tree as a source of nourishment. Despite being a parasite, mistletoe is an important source of food for birds, a place to lay eggs for butterflies, and bees use the pollen.
The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas time comes from a blending of Norse and English tradition dating back to the middle ages. In Norse mythology the mistletoe plant is a symbol of love and friendship. And in old English tradition mistletoe was the finishing touch on the Kissing Bunch–which predates the traditional Christmas tree.
It seems so appropriate that this little plant found on our grounds is a symbol of love and friendship. “Tilikum” comes from the Chinook word for “friend” and “welcome” and very accurately describes what goes on within these 93 acres. A few thousand people visit our grounds each year and encounter these ideals of community and leave with new and deepened friendships. Where have you noticed love and friendship out here at Tilikum?