My family has always taken a two-pronged approach to remedying all that ails you. Of course we believe prevention is the best cure, and we have a long history of using herbal remedies to create a strong immune system to provide that. But when all else fails were not afraid to go to the doctor and ask for muscle in the way of prescription medication. That being said, there’s nothing like the look on my kids’ faces when they see that mommy got a Christmas present from Grandma, and the look of bewilderment that follows the question, “mom, why does grandma always send you dead plants for Christmas?”

The main plant she sends for this time of year is called yarrow. It grows wild all around my grandmother’s home in Ruidoso, NM, and she goes to great lengths, drying out pounds of the stuff and sending it to all of her grandchildren for the winter. Yarrow can be brewed like a tea, and is commonly (at least in my family) used as a decongestant and an aid in sweating out toxins to help with colds and the flu.

This year’s present came just in time, I was presenting with all the “good stuff”- body aching, constant cough, and a sore throat. I was completely out of the stash grandma had sent last year, which I kept in an old Folgers container in the top cupboard of my kitchen cabinet, when I received the new package of yarrow in the mail.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see the package in my box. There I stood wrapped in a blanket with sniffle tissue in hand, and just in time to see my new neighbor moving in. He seemed like a nice enough fella, and we waived to each other briefly. After our eyes met for a second I noticed that he then lowered his gaze to my new package.. which I had just unwrapped. I guess this is a good time to mention that my grandmother dries the yarrow and mails it in dried leaf form in 1 gallon Zip lock baggies so it will stay fresh.

My neighbor quickly (and rudely I might add) looked away as if he had been witness to some great crime in which he wanted no association. I shrugged it off, maybe he was busy because of the move. A few hours later while brewing my tea I decided to turn the lights in the house down and turn up some Christmas music.  As I turned the lights down I realized this would be a perfect time to light my hazelnut candles, but I then came to the realization that I have no lighters in the house whatsoever.

I’m not a smoker, but I was stumped.. surely I’d have a lighter laying around that I used on one of the kids birthday cakes or something.. Well, I did the next best thing of course; I turned on my stove and rolled up a napkin like any other person would have done (?) As I begin to light the napkin my dog starts trying to jump out the back door and is barking non-stop, I thought, “what on earth is he going nuts over?”

Walking slowly (so as not make the flame extinguish), I take my lit napkin to the back door and let him out, then realizing he’s just barking at my neighbor who is now in the backyard. We briefly exchange glances again, and once again he lowers his gaze to what is now my quenched twisted napkin, which has a small glow at the tip and only smoke where a flame used to be. Without a word he then turns away and rushes inside his house, at which point I think, “great, of course I get the weirdy pants neighbor.”