I was so excited when I saw the white reindeer wood cut out Christmas lawn decorations at our church’s recycled Christmas sale. I’ve admired deer like these for years and thought they were the right combination of playful and classy. I loved the simplicity — no ladders required. Just after Thanksgiving I put them out, creating a Christmas tableau in my front yard. I had a whole story in my head about this family of four. I felt that smug satisfaction of those who get their act together early enough to put up out Christmas decorations without their fingers turning blue with cold. Maybe this year I’d get my cards out before Valentine’s Day, be able to shop thoughtfully instead of frantically, and have moments sipping tea in front of my fire enjoying my Christmas competence. I was glad that the neighbors could stop wondering if the United Methodist pastor celebrates Christmas.
The next morning, I stood at my window holding a cup of coffee ready to admire my handiwork, and the adolescent son had fallen over. I went out in my bathrobe and righted him. When I came home that evening the older buck with bedecked antlers had crashed, breaking two Christmas bulbs, and the doe was on her side. It seemed that someone could sneeze down the street and my deer would tip over. Over the next few days church members reported to me the standing deer versus fallen deer census of my front yard. I learned later that various solutions were bandied about at a funeral lunch. A windstorm decimated the herd overnight. Rudolf had landed on his head. The doe had blown across the street. I found her ears in a neighbor’s lawn and her tail in the gutter.
I roamed around Home Depot looking for a solution. I settled on an eye screw on the back of a reindeer leg and a stake through the eye screw into the ground. The deer stood up – for two whole days. A friend suggested I give up the fight with a sign, “Shhh…. the deer are sleeping.” I considered an Elmer Fudd cutout lurking behind a tree. It is hunting season. I think I’ll do a sign that says, “Christmas didn’t go according to plan.”