Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 17, 2014

Empty Nest: Christmas

By Curt Swarm | Dec 03, 2012

I’ve never been much of a one for decorating my yard and front of the house with Christmas lights. Not that I have anything against them, and I certainly do my share of driving around to look at Christmas lights, it’s just that I’m lazy. Putting up outdoor Christmas lights is a lot of work. They’re only up for a short time, and you have to go out in the biting January wind (when I’d rather be watching football) and take them down. Ba humbug.

I must be getting old. I have this old, pioneer-style farm wagon that I use at the Old Threshers Reunion to haul kids in the parade. It’s fun, and I get sort of a kick out of it, probably more so than the kids. And I’ve written about my experiments with welding rusty junk together to make sculptures. Well, this hair-brained idea came into my head that, for Christmas, I could make a reindeer out of rusty sheet steel, and attach it to the wagon. It would be cute. I told my neighbor, Jeff Moeller, about my plans, and he said that what I ought to do is elevate the wagon’s front wheels on ramps, like it’s taking off into the air, and hook the reindeer to it like it’s pulling the wagon up into the sky.

That’s the last thing an old codger like me needs, is a wild idea. I looked up reindeer images on the internet—there’s a cajillion of them—and, with Mary’s help, drew up a fancy reindeer. I went to work with the plasma cutter. For those of you who don’t know what a plasma cutter is—a plasma cutter is to steel, what a scroll saw is to plywood. Plasma cutters have replaced cutting torches. Anyone can run one, even me. (Yes, I wore my goggles. I didn’t want another ride to the emergency room in the middle of the night!)

Voila! I hate to admit it (OK, I will), Mary and I made a pretty spiffy-looking reindeer, if I do say so myself. And I do.

I was elevating and attaching the reindeer to the tongue of the wagon, with Mary helping, when she said, “You know, Curt, what you ought to do is string Christmas lights around the reindeer and wagon.”

Dang it! She was right. So, I went to the store and got a couple of strings of Christmas lights and, because it was her idea, I made Mary help. It was a warm Saturday afternoon, for December, and we did have fun stringing lights on the reindeer and wagon. We even let Holly Dog run loose, something we don't normally do.

The reindeer and wagon are pretty cute. Passing motorists and dog walkers stopped to admire the Christmas scene. I'll go out on a limb here and claim that I have the only reindeer pulling a wagon (not a sleigh) up into the sky in Mt. Pleasant—no, Henry County.

Don't be surprised if, on Christmas morning, you see reindeer tracks in the snow (if we have snow) across your roof or back yard, followed, not by sleigh tracks, but wheel marks.

I'm thinking maybe next year, I'll add a Santa to the wagon seat.

Then there could be music. “Here comes Santa Claus...”

I love Christmas.

 

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com

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