If you spend any time in my apartment, one thing that may appear to your wandering eyes is a plush set of four tiny reindeer. Those reindeer are Rodney and Friends, and they’ve lived in my parents’ house since 1987. They now reside in my apartment, because when I asked my mom if she could mail me one or two to use as Christmas decorations she sent me the whole set.
If you are unfamiliar with Rodney and Friends, they are plush reindeer created by Hallmark in the late 1970s, but most people know them because they were available to purchase as meal add ons at Burger King in 1987. We were a fast food family, and even though Burger King wasn’t one of our usual haunts, you’ve got to go where the reindeer are. So we did, and we picked up the entire set. I don’t remember the specifics, but according to the commercial located above, a different reindeer was available each week. If that was the case instead of a rogue Burger King staffer offering to sell us all four at once, then we went there for a month in order to pick up our deer. In either event it was well worth it.
Rodney and his pals immediately became part of our annual Christmas decorations. My parents live in a two story house with a staircase with a metal railing. A portion of each step juts out beyond the rail, and that’s where Rodney and friends lay. Each reindeer assumed his or her position on a step, and that’s where it lived every December.
My parents’ house featured two other things over the years as well: children and cats. I have two sisters, born two years before and two years after me. When we got the reindeer I was seven. That made my sister Melissa five. If you’ve ever met a seven year old, you know that he’s not exactly the picture of maturity. He’s not above chucking a reindeer up or down the stairs, dropping one over the railing from the open upstairs hallway, kicking one off the stair as he goes by, or a number of other indignities that a creatively shitty kid can visit upon a stuffed reindeer. Plus, my sister was five. She didn’t even have to think about it, over the edge went the reindeer. Half the time the reindeer launch had more to do with the clumsiness of a five year old than anything else. My sister lacked the pre-adolescent malevolence that came naturally to boys my age.
The other thing we had was cats, and like my sister, often they dispatched the reindeer accidentally. Other times they nonchalantly shoved them aside to make more room for them to pick a stair to dangerously lounge upon, creating the perfect tripping hazard in a home with three children.
The reindeer tossing tradition didn’t end when my sisters and I grew out of it. There would also be more cats, and eventually there were more kids as well. My older sister’s two older boys are just now reaching the ages where they can find better things to do than play on the stairs, and her younger twins are three, prime toy chucking age. My younger sister’s older kid will be two this year as well.
Sadly for them, when we gather at my parents’ house this December there won’t be any reindeer for my nephews or my nieces to grab, shove in a mouth, or knock over a railing. They live with me now, and will be keeping my cats company instead while we’re in Ohio.
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