Move over Charlie Brown. Move over Ralphie and Randy. There’s a new holiday classic in town. Or should we say, in tahn. In honor of our base of operations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we present Toots and Sophie, two hometahn gals, in their first video adventure written, produced, and directed by Akoya and starring our very own Amy (as Toots) and Sophie (as herself). Rich Schutte was the director of photography and dialogue coach. We hope you enjoy our three minutes of yuletide cheer, Pittsburgh-style.
My brothers piled into the car with our opened gifts and Ziploc bags of mashed potatoes and Christmas cookies. I climbed into the driver’s seat, waved bye to grandma, and we started for home.
Road: desolate. High beams: on, and in the snow-speckled darkness they didn’t seem to make a difference. I still saw the full-racked buck the same way. We were in a strange snowglobe with the snow on the outside and the deer looking in.
Swerve. Impact. Hazard lights.
I found the buck laying peacefully next to pieces of the car. Wait a minute. Maybe it was whiplash or too much turkey, but this looked like Comet. Or Cupid. Or Donner. Or Blitzen. Whoever it was, I knew there had to be serious repercussions for hitting a Reindeer, especially on Christmas day.
My brothers assessed the damage. After some debate, we all agreed that the car was fit to drive home. That’s when I saw a pickup truck pull over. A man got out and walked across the road.
He walked toward us, as if he knew what had happened. Oh heavens. He knew. He knew what I did. It was pretty obvious what had happened—I was cruising home and murdered one of Santa’s reindeer.
The man stopped by our car. He reached down toward the deer. That’s when I realized he didn’t stop out of concern for us. He wanted the deer I had done him the favor of, uh, making available. Evidently no self-respecting western Pennsylvanian hunter could pass up an opportunity to harvest, not a reindeer, but a white-tailed stag with an enviable rack.
I was relieved that someone else was going to be responsible for the victim. I mean, it still could’ve been Blitzen (or Prancer… it’s not like they carry ID). But if it was, at least I knew the presents had already been delivered the night before.
Every year, I haul out the holiday lights from their peaceful slumber. Part of the process has always been to plug ‘em in and see if they still work—inside, before braving the cold. Invariably, half—just half—of the old strings of incandescent mini-lights would work consistently. As a result, more and more strands were ending up in a landfill until I made the change to LEDs about three years ago. Now, the colors are brighter and the whites are warmer. LEDs are more efficient, too. But the best part is that, so far, every strand I bought lights up completely. I’m not adding to the landfill, I can string more lights end to end, and I’m saving energy. I’m also adding more sparkle to the season.
I’ve been feeling nostalgic lately; my kids are growing too fast. The other day my daughter Jordyn and I were out, and I got to thinking about the day she asked me that dreaded question feared by all parents around the holidays: “Is Santa real?”
This question came as we walked around a department store and ooh’d and aah’d over the Christmas displays. I knew this was a test! I was being asked by my beyond-her-years daughter who already knew the answer! So, in the most casual way I could muster, I replied with that standard response I believe (or hope) most parents use when caught unprepared: “What do you think?”
“I think it’s you and Dad,” she answered. “All the kids say so, and the thought of flying reindeer is just a little too far-fetched to believe.”
Willing myself not to cry at that moment, I told her the truth: Yes, her parents may eat the cookies and leave the presents, but it’s Believing that’s the special part of Christmas. It’s Believing that puts the excitement into the preparation, the anticipation of Christmas morning, and the joy that’s shared all day long. That’s Christmas. As soon as she was satisfied with our discussion, she looked at me and asked, “Does this mean there’s no tooth fairy either?”
Now that Adam, my baby, is at that same age now, it’s sad to think I’ll be having this conversation again soon. It takes away that innocent, full-of-wonder part of the season that I find myself desperately trying to hold onto.
Editor’s Note to Santa: The opinions of this writer are not necessarily shared by the Nitty Gritty.