It was the holiday season and JD, Buck, and Vin were in the saloon having a drink. Inez stood nearby, wiping down the bar. She noticed Buck looking at a small, potted flower she'd placed at the end of the bar as a Christmas decoration.
"You are interested in this plant, Senor Buck? It is a Christmas tradition among my people."
Buck smiled. "I love plants. Like this one here." He reached into his jacket and held up a small green sprig. "It's mistletoe."
Inez nodded her head in the direction of the poinsettia. "This plant has a story. Would you like to hear it?"
Buck looked deep into her eyes and grinned. "I'd love to."
Inez leaned closer and spoke in a soft voice. JD, Buck, and Vin listened intently.
"It was Christmas Eve. A poor Mexican girl named Pepita was on her way to church. She was weeping because she had no regalo--no gift--to put before the altar of the Virgin and Child. She wished and she prayed. Then, through her tears, an angel appeared and said to gather weeds from beside the road. When Pepita got to the altar with her gift, beautiful red flowers burst from every stem. We call it flor de noche buena."
Everyone was silent for a moment. Buck twirled his sprig of mistletoe in his fingers.
"There's an old legend about this little fella, too. There was once a beautiful woman deeply in love with a soldier from another country. Each were loved by their own people, but these two countries was at war. On Christmas day, this soldier died in battle. That poor woman cried herself to death. And when both sides saw that, they felt sorry for them, and they declared a truce. It's a beautiful love story. The green, see, means the life of the young soldier. The white berries are the tears of his lover. So kissing under the mistletoe means friendship and goodwill. And if you meet someone under the mistletoe and kiss him, you're assured happiness and long life."
Inez's eyes had softened. "This is a tradition, Senor Buck?"
He nodded. "A very old and dear one."
"For tradition's sake, then..." Inez leaned over the bar and kissed him. It was brief but it left Buck with a smile so wide, it seemed like his mustache would tickle his ears.
As Buck, Vin, and JD were leaving the saloon, Vin said "Real nice story."
"Buck," said JD, "is that really the legend of mistletoe?"
"I'm sure it is, JD. Somewhere in the world."