Hay! It takes a lot of work to uphold Christmas traditions

By Melanie Yingst

December 27, 2013

Despite the debris scattered around the house, Christmas was a success for me this year.

This year was special since I had my 9 year-old son for the full holiday for the first time in many years. Usually, he spends it with his father and their family down in San Antonio for a much deserved vacation with family.

Usually we are rushing through presents before jetting off to the airport to catch their flight.

Holidays aren’t always the easiest time of the year for those of us parents who have to split the time amongst several family members. Luckily for me, shared parenting around the holidays isn’t a stressful event because we manage to put what is best for Evan ahead of our own agendas and I know we are in the minority of these types of situations.

So spending Christmas this year at home was new and different for me this year since I also had to uphold several traditional Christmas traditions which Evan has shared with paternal family for several years.

We did the traditional milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. Generally I don’t like to keep sweets in bulk around the kitchen, so a few stale Oreos came in handy. Evan received a cute mug from his Bible club from school which we used for Santa’s drink of choice.

Then, at Evan’s request, we had to feed the reindeer. Why? Because you need to feed the crew who spends 24 hours hauling all the world’s Christmas gear. His family in Texas would throw carrots on the rooftop for Santa’s reindeer.

Evan just didn’t mention this Christmas tradition until Christmas Eve after church service and days after my trip to Kroger.

“Mom, we have to feed Santa’s reindeer! Where are the carrots?” Evan said, already in his Christmas “jammies.”

I don’t keep cookies and sweets in stock around the house, but I also don’t really care for carrots since I’m the only member of the house who will eat them. The kid won’t eat carrots or any other vegetable for that matter, but Rudolph needs fuel to keep that red nose running so he doesn’t get fined by the Federal Aviation Administration.

So I managed to find three baby carrots at the bottom of my fridge. From the look on Evan’s face, those three baby carrots were only going to suffice Donner, Blitzen and Prancer.

I had to think fast.

While we do not have any livestock on the farm, I quickly remembered some “sheep treats” left over from our 4-H project.

So down to the bank barn I went to search for the fair box — in the dark. Folks, there’s nothing more eerie than a cold, empty barn with minimal lighting in the dead of winter.

But it’s all about the kids at this time of year, right?

So with my cell phone as my flash light I ventured down to the barn and tried to remember where we stashed the fair box so I could feed these hungry reindeer. I’m sure Santa appreciates a break from feeding a herd of reindeer with the insane feed prices up at the North Pole.

As I was rummaging through the barn, I also found that I wasn’t alone.

A family of raccoons were waiting on me as I unlocked the barn door and they greeted me with their devilish smiles.

There aren’t too many things that scare me around this place, but raccoons are one of them. Oh sure, they look cute, but they are mean creatures.

Instead of confronting the little devils, I slammed the barn door and tried to think of an alternative solution to this reindeer feed dilemma.


I found a handful of hay and grabbed a fistful and headed to the house.

Evan and I stood outside in the freezing cold and tossed alfalfa up on the porch roof.

Have you ever tried to throw hay 8 feet up in the air? Let me save you the trouble — hay is not aerodynamic.

I had hay in my hair. I had hay on my porch. I had hay in my house.

But we had all of God’s creatures taken care of by Christmas morning. Santa was fed. The reindeer were fed.

Even the Christmas raccoons were fed as the scampered around my front porch feeding off the three tiny, mushy carrots in a fresh bed of hay.

Hay, we do what we got to do to keep Christmas traditions alive around these parts.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears on Fridays in the Troy Daily News. Hey Jack!