Christmas, part I: Return of the 'Robo-Deer' - Curt Yeomans

It's Christmas time, and this is the first of two holiday columns I plan to write this year. This week, I will discuss Christmas decorations. I just put them up last weekend.

I have a small group of decorations for the yard. The center piece is this spiraling "Christmas Tree" of lights. Half of the lights don't work, but then again, neither do half the lights for the inside tree, when you pull them out of the box. It's a perfect fit.

Behind the tree, is a row of light-up candy canes. On each side, is a wooden stake that is white, with red stripes spiraling to the top, which makes them look like cylinder-shaped peppermints. At the top of each stake, is a wooden horse head.

A new addition this year is an 18-inch penguin, and an 18-inch snowman. Each has a bunch of little lights inside. They look dwarfed next to the "Christmas Tree" that is more than four times taller than they are.

What I really wanted was the two-foot, six-inch-tall, neon pink flamingo, that lights up and is wearing a Santa hat. It's really cool looking, with one leg kicked up, as if it just kicked snow in the face of another yard decoration. But alas, it was sold out when I went to the store. Plus, it costs $45, which is a bit on the expensive side.

But, I have to say the decorations which take the cake are two mechanical deer. One lifts its head up and down, as if it is trying to "eat" the grass, and then pulls away in disgust. The other just swings its head from side to side. The problem is both deer move their heads incredibly slowly, and judging by the strains that moving the head seems to put on their motors, they apparently have Robo-Deer Arthritis.

It's kind of awful to watch. Sometimes, the motor gets stuck and it's like watching 80's computer cartoon personality Ma-Ma-Max Headroom all over again. All that is missing is a screen behind the deer that only shows rotating lines. But, really, it's just ann-ann-annoying.

Christmas decorations are a lot of torture, though. They take a lot of time and effort to put up. They can only stay up for a few weeks, then, once they are all in place, you only get momentary satisfaction from seeing a light display, which can only offer long-term satisfaction to the electric company's billing department.

Of course, once Christmas is all over, it takes a lot more time and effort to take them down, pack them up and put them away.

They are seemingly God's way of punishing humans for over-commercializing this holiday. Some people in the retail biz must have taken it a little too seriously when comedienne Brett Butler joked that nothing says the birth of Christ quite like a half-off sale.

Christmas should not be mainly about who can give the best present, and who can get the most intoxicated from the egg nog, but it is. It's sad and pleasing at the same time.

On the one hand, it's sad because Jesus' life has been co-opted by two fictional characters. Santa Claus got Jesus' birth, and the Easter Bunny got his death. Honestly, if I was the Easter Bunny, I'd at least demand a trade.

But, if I were Jesus, I'd demand a holy beat down.

On the other hand, it is actually fun to unwrap new presents.

Still, it's only a matter of time before someone tries to sell a nativity scene for your yard, featuring Rudolph, Prancer and Dancer as the three wisemen (Rudolph's nose would, of course, blink), Santa and Mrs. Claus as Joseph and Mary, with an elf as Jesus.

Don't give my column that look, you know some corporate suit has already thought of it.

Anyway, as for what will be featured in next week's column, all I can say is, "Look out for the flying shovel!"

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.