Living in a rural, wooded area, we share space in our neighborhood with lots of critters. It’s not unusual for a possum – and sometimes an armadillo – to stroll across our back deck at night, and we often see deer in the front yard, nibbling on my rosebush, or in the back yard, nibbling in my herb garden.

Deer sightings along the side of the road – or running across the road, right in front of us – are almost a daily occurrence, especially at certain times of the year, and at certain times of day. In fact, my husband and I usually remind each other, “Watch out for deer, Dear,” when one of us is going somewhere early in the morning or anytime in the evening.

The other day, someone posted on the Neighborhood Digest website a photo of what she called “a herd of deer” in her yard. There were seven or eight in the photo, and she said there were more nearby but out of camera range. A number of people left follow-up comments, as they often do. Some reminded the woman that deer lived here before people did, or pointed out that we’re in a rural area and should try to coexist peacefully with our four-legged neighbors. Some posted stories of their close encounters with deer on the road, or descriptions of where and when they hit a deer – or vice versa.

I usually try not to get sucked into the comment threads on these posts, but sometimes I can’t help myself and I keep reading until I see what everyone had to say. I’m glad that was the case with this one, or I would have missed a comment that made me laugh out loud. It said, “Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!”

I have to admit that even in December, just a week or so before Christmas, I’ve never seen a deer and thought about the reindeer famous for pulling Santa’s sleigh. After all, we live several thousand miles south of the North Pole, and the deer in our neighborhood don’t look anything like the ones I see on Christmas cards or in National Geographic documentaries.

Still, I like the idea, and I’m going to make an effort, at least for the rest of the holiday season, to think of Santa’s reindeer whenever I see a deer – or herd of deer – in our yard or along the side of the road. No matter how busy or harried or preoccupied I am during this hectic time of year, I know it will bring a smile to my face.

And who knows? Maybe one night I’ll see in the distance a deer with a glowing red nose. Then I’ll know not only that there are deer nearby that I need to watch out for, but that Rudolph, like the others, is getting ready to guide Santa’s sleigh across the sky on Christmas Eve.

December 17, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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