A Tale of Christmas Past

One of my activities while home for the holidays this year is rummaging through boxes of memories and paperwork left behind over the generations at the farm house. But before doing so, I must purge my own boxes of relics to clear out the old and make way for the (old) new.

While sifting through old Middlebury paperwork my mom has saved (Justin, I’m not the only Goodman packrat), I came across this gem from my weekly column in the school newspaper. This has nothing to do with hops, but the idle commentary helped keep my roots while I learned to explore the world. In true holiday spirit, here’s an old Rural Banter I came across today, originally published in the Middlebury Campus paper on Thursday, December 9, 2004:

Santa got run over by a reindeer, picking out a Christmas tree one night. You can say there is no such thing as a fierce reindeer, but as for me and Santa we believe…

Yes, Middlebury, there is a Santa Claus. Trust me on this one. You see, every Christmas Eve, my father becomes Santa Claus. He dons the red suit and travels to a string of houses to hear last minute gift requests from neighborhood children. As an elf in training, I have often been called upon to drive the sleigh. Sorry, no reindeer, just the family sedan. Santa rolls out the car door, and shuffles down the sidewalk, bellowing the infamous “Ho Ho Ho” and jingling sleigh bells all the way.

But once, one of the reindeer (Blitzen, I presume) got a little jealous of Santa’s modern mode of transportation and turned on the jolly, old man.

‘Twas the weekend after Thanksgiving, a few years back, and my family was tromping along the outskirts of one of our farm fields in search of the perfect Christmas tree. Axe in hand, my father, Kris Kringle in woodsman clothing, led the anxious pack. Our search came to a sudden halt when what to my mother’s eyes did appear, but a lonely tall figure of a tall, brown deer. Now, wild deer are no oddity around the farm, but this one was different—it had a red cloth collar around its neck and seemed rather friendly. Mrs. Claus, with worry in her voice, said to my father, “Oh goodness, someone has lost his pet deer.” Translation: You should go catch the poor, seemingly tame creature that can’t find his way home.

And so, Father Christmas put down his axe and slowly approached the deer. But it was apparently that time of year when little Blitzen was looking for love, so the presence of any male sent him into a fury. The irate deer tackled my father to the ground, pawing each little hoof on his chest and bowlful of jelly. As mom ran to the woods to “find a stick” to scare away the beast, Santa pulled a half-nelson and Blitzen was down for the count. Alas, the infuriated deer, as my family did fear, quickly jumped back to his feet. Away from the field, we flew like a flash, tore open our front door and felt safe at last.

But, lo, the tale does not end here. We warned the neighbors (and the game warden) of the fawn gone wrong. On the porch the next day, there arose such a clatter, Mom sprang from her work to see what was the matter. No, Blitzen had not returned for revenge, rather it was the Channel 6 newscaster. You know you live in a small town when the lead in to the evening news is your embarrassing family picture with the voice over: “Family attached by deer while looking for Christmas tree.”

Awkward Family Christmas Portrait

Awkward family photos shared on the evening news help to make the season bright.

If you are reading this story with disbelief, trust that I have not been drinking too much eggnog. The tale is true. So I leave you with a wish for Happy Holidays and a warning on Christmas Eve, remember to steer clear of Blitzen.

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