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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Dear Deer: How "minimal assembly" turned into maximum chaos

Nov 27, 2023 10:15AM ● By Gary Chalk

My wife Jan and I went online and ordered an outdoor Christmas decoration: a two-piece reindeer and sleigh set with 150 LED lights that said “minimal assembly required.” 

We should have known better.

The words on the box indicated that the deer and sleigh measured 6 feet long and 4 feet tall. What arrived on our porch was a 2-foot square carton crammed with deer legs, the head and neck, a set of antlers, the body, sleigh runners and plenty of pieces for the sleigh. Counting spare bulbs, fuses and ground stakes, there were 24 individual parts and 42 pieces of hardware. What were we thinking?

I brought the box down to our basement and waited until Jan and I mustered the courage to assemble the deer and sleigh.

Jan said, “Gary, while you open the carton, I’ll go upstairs and make some hot mulled wine—it’s called wassail. This is going to be so much fun!” 

I shook my head.


“Gary, you attached the deer legs facing backwards and you’ve got them inside out! And why on earth have you got the tail dangling from his neck?”

“Jan, that will have to do. Dear, this deer is testing my patience.”

“Gary, which dear are you referring to: dear meaning me, or the deer we are assembling?

From flat on my back with the deer’s butt resting on my forehead I screamed, “Both dear, deer!”

That’s when it happened…

I rolled over to stand up and accidentally pressed the Jeep key fob in my pocket! 


Jan jumped and spilled hot mulled wine down my pants! 

“Oh Gary. I hope I didn’t burn you!”

“No. But, dear, I have wassail up my wazoo. Dear, not your wazoo. Not the deer’s wazoo—my wazoo!”


I swear it was like we were playing Twister. Jan was lying on her back holding the deer’s hind legs in place towards its rump with plastic twist ties dangling from her mouth. I was overtop holding the sleigh near the deer’s buttocks with one hand and reaching the other hand to tighten a plastic twist tie around its tail!

That is when it happened…

Our friggin’ power went out! It was total darkness! 

Jan tried to hold the deer legs in place while fumbling with her iPhone to turn the flashlight on. 

“Gary, how do you find the flashlight on this thing?”

“Dear, you hold the deer. I’ll go grab a flashlight.”

“Gary, please be clear! When you said dear did you mean me or the deer?”

“Dear, I never thought I would live to see the day when there are too many dears in the house!”

In the darkness, I tripped over one of the deer’s hooves. Jan was holding its tail on the end of one of the sleigh’s runners, carefully balancing her wassail in her hand.

When I returned to the basement and shone the flashlight, I saw Jan had two deer legs sort of near its body, but one of the legs was dangling from its mouth. Jan took one look at my pants soaked in wine. She laughed, spewing plastic twist tags from her mouth!


Our power came back on. I had clean pants on. The deer and sleigh were laying in a pile on our front lawn—three legs pointed towards the sky; the other leg was stuck in its rump! The 150 LED lights twinkled, showing off well, a mess.

Our neighbor Lyle appeared. He stared in disbelief at our blinking blob in the middle of the lawn. 

I broke the silence, “I call it ‘Christmas carcass.’”

As Lyle walked out of sight I exclaimed, “Happy Christmas to all. And to all a good night.” 

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