There used to be four of them, I think — little white plastic reindeer attached by the tiniest red ribbon to a white plastic sleigh. Grandma Simmons would place the arrangement in a windowsill or on the big turntable/black-and-white television (back in the day when TVs were concealed inside wooden furniture) as part of her Christmas decorations.
She had an aluminum Christmas tree, as well, and a spotlight with a rotating four-color lens shining on it, but that's another story.
One of the reindeer survives, sort of. I don't know what might have happened to the rest of the set, but this one racing courser has been in my possession since childhood. It's yellowed from age and has the dried residue of ancient invisible tape around its midsection. An antler is broken, as is part of its snout.
It's seen better days.
I glued its two halves back together in the last week of November and perched it in a place of honor upon a green limb close to the top of my family's Christmas tree. It sits among crystal ornaments and Hallmark collectibles, but this one little reindeer - it's more than "mere embellishment," as Webster's might define the word.
It's my favorite.
Not that there's anything spectacular about it. You'd miss it among the lights and tinsel. But it wouldn't be Christmas without it, if you know what I mean.
If you're an adult, Christmas is often about memories. If you're a parent, it's often about making memories for the kids around you. A couple of future memories could be right under your nose — simple things, the tiniest elements that, recalled, will make Christmas special for someone in years to come.
(The preceding was most of my Undercurrents column for Dec.8, 2002; the list of local holiday events at the bottom was deleted.)