Merry Christmas 2007!

Merry Christmas! ‘Twas a little bit cooler than last year, and I have seen snow this winter, so we’re making some progress. Unfortunately, my hopes of nobody-getting-anybody-anything were dashed. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, my grandfather worked for Montgomery Ward. He was an architect, so I’m not certain what exactly his job was at a department store. Maybe he was designing a new building for them, or maybe he was moonlighting. Either way, one day, one of Grampa’s coworkers drew a picture of a reindeer. I don’t know whether it was part of a promotional campaign, or an attempt to develop a children’s story, or a doodle for his kids, but he drew a deer, and then placed a small red lightbulb directly on the deer’s nose. Turns out it was a magic lightbulb; a giant reindeer with a glowing nose and flames shooting from his eyes leapt from the page, burst through he wall, and let out a bloodcurdling roar as he flew away.

Well, the marketer/author/doodler knew he was on to something—and shortly thereafter Montgomery Ward would copyright his idea and turn it into a children’s song and Christmas special.

Growing up, my younger sister loved rabbits. She had all kinds of bunny merchandise, as well as a large, white, floppy-eared bunny who lived in a large pen in the backyard.

One long ago, somewhat cold Christmas morning, the telephone rang shortly after the Opening of the Presents. I answered the phone with a cheery “Merry Christmas!”

The woman on the other end of the phone said, “If you don’t bring that rabbit inside tonight I’m going to call the police. That poor thing’s going to freeze to death out there.” She hung up.

I returned the phone to its cradle and paused. It had been cold, but not freezing. The moron who’d called clearly knew nothing about rabbits, but was a moron nonetheless and could cause some trouble. So I told Dad about the call. He said not to worry.

It remained cold throughout the day, and every once in a while I’d look out the back window to see if the rabbit was okay. Each time I checked, the fuzzy white thing hadn’t moved an inch.

Night came, and I looked out the window again. The rabbit was still in the same spot. I was getting worried–not about the rabbit (after all, it wasn’t mine), but about whether the police would actually show up over a frozen rabbit. I asked Dad whether he was going to bring the rabbit inside tonight.

He said, “The rabbit’s going to be just fine.”

I said, “Well, I’ve been watching it, and it hasn’t moved all day.”

“Really? Why don’t you go check on it?”

So I turned on the exterior light and walked out back. I tried to step on the leaves as heavily as possible, hoping that the crunch would cause the rabbit to stir before I got there. Surely a dead rabbit would mean at least one if not both of my parents getting arrested. But the rabbit didn’t move. I was finally close enough to reach into the cage and touch it—

—and then I saw that the lifeless white furball wasn’t the rabbit at all. It was one of my sister’s stuffed bunny dolls.

I laughed out loud. The real rabbit had been inside all along, and Dad put a decoy out there to trick whatever busybody came looking for the real rabbit. Beautiful. I stood by the cage for a minute or two, highly amused but a little confused about what exactly would’ve happened if that busybody had shown up.

I heard the crunching on footsteps on dead leaves near the side of the house; someone was approaching. I thought it was Dad, and I turned around laughing. But it wasn’t Dad.

One of the neighbors had walked into my backyard with a flashlight, presumably to check on the rabbit. I said, “You’re not supposed to be back here.”

She said, “Young man, that thing is going to die if it hasn’t already. Now move and let me see, or I’ll get the police to do it.”

I said, “It’s not even a real rabbit, so just go away.”

She said, “Do you want me to call the police?”

Behind her, something rustled. I thought it was Dad, waiting for her. She didn’t seem to notice.

“The rabbit’s fine and you need to go or you’re in big trouble.”

She said, “When you grow up, I hope you take better care—”

Something snorted angrily behind her. She turned around and peered into the darkness.

An eleven-foot, forty-six-point buck with a glowing red nose and eyes of flame sprinted into my backyard. Without stopping, its fangs clamped down on the arm that my neighbor had pathetically flung up to defend herself, and bounded into the night sky. She hadn’t even had time to scream.

I watched until the silhouette of the reindeer and its prey had crossed the moon, then walked back in the house and congratulated Dad on his prank. He got me pretty good on that one.

2 Responses to “Merry Christmas 2007!”

Doctor Hmnahmna says: 
December 27th, 2007 at 11:03 am: And I like how you rocked the late 70s/early 80s moptop haircut. That is the requisite cut for the impossibly cute kid brought in late in a sitcom run to salvage one more year of ratings. It never worked, and cancellation was around the corner.

willburg says: 
January 15th, 2008 at 9:55 pm: i remember hearing the bunny story about 3 years ago but i dont remember the eleven-foot, forty-six point buck.