The Runaway Reindeer

Shutterstock © Wayne the reindeer leaping in the air Illustration: Shutterstock


Leaving a trail of destruction in his wake, should Wayne the reindeer be renamed Rudolph, Blitzen… or Cupid?

Hannah added yet another task to her extensive to-do list and heaved a weary sigh of frustration. She was way behind with Christmas preparations, her rather eccentric Aunt Winnie was staying with her and only this morning, she’d woken up to find a reindeer casually tugging at the greenery in her garden…

“Should we give it a carrot?” Aunt Winnie had suggested helpfully.

“No, I’m not encouraging it!” Hannah had already seen the trail of damage so far; two broken greenhouse windows, several decimated plants, a chewed tree and a gaping hole in the hedge.

She’d then trudged wearily over the hill behind her cottage and knocked impatiently on the door of the farmhouse. She knew that dear old Fred, who’d kept cows and sheep, was now retired; obviously this new farmer had different ideas and hadn’t got a clue!

The tall, dark, tousle-haired man who answered the door had grabbed her attention for a moment but he seemed so grumpy she immediately became irritated.

Can I help you? Only I’m trying to run this farm single-handed!

“Well, I’m very busy too!” she’d retaliated, stroppily. “You may have noticed that it’s almost Christmas? Well, I have a whole load of stuff to do, and at this very moment a rather large reindeer is on the rampage in my garden!”

“Oh, that must be Wayne!” the man had informed her with a grin.

“Wayne?” Hannah had raised an eyebrow at that.

“Yes, my little niece always used to say ‘waindeer’ so Wayne was an obvious name when I rescued him. He’s always escaping, but don’t worry, he’s such a softie, he wouldn’t…”

“Well, I am most certainly not a softie,” Hannah had declared with a determined tilt of her chin, “And Wayne is systematically wrecking and digesting most of my foliage!”

Greg had then introduced himself, promised to repair the damage and insisted on taking her home in his rattly old tractor trailer, along with Tess the sheepdog and a cargo of assorted vegetables. Buffeted by a very brisk easterly wind Hannah had clung grimly to the sides of the trailer and wondered if her seriously bruised bottom would ever recover as she was jolted and bounced over the frozen terrain. Any Christmas spirit she may have had was rapidly disappearing, along with all feeling in her hands and feet.

Halfway over the hill, however, she did a double take as she spotted her Aunt Winnie anxiously scurrying along on the horizon. Hannah cupped her hands to her mouth and called but her voice just carried on the wind.

Greg, however, gave two piercing whistles and Tess leapt from the trailer and was off like a determined rocket. Aunt Winnie looked totally startled as Tess tried to round her up but then she spotted Hannah madly waving from the trailer and headed towards her.

But as the tractor neared the top of the hill it appeared to be labouring and Hannah wasn’t the slightest bit surprised when it coughed and spluttered to a halt, leaving her to clamber out of the trailer in a very unladylike fashion.

“That wretched reindeer is heading for the vicarage,” puffed Aunt Winnie, walking as quickly as her slippers would allow. “The vicar will be furious!”

They set off on foot with Aunt Winnie holding onto Hannah’s arm and Greg’s long legs covering the ground with ease.

Come along! I can see Wayne from here. His antlers are sticking up over the hedge!

“Wayne?” asked Aunt Winnie.

“Don’t ask,” replied Hannah.

The three of them arrived in the vicarage garden just as the vicar and his wife were vigorously waving their arms at Wayne as he resolutely chewed on the trunk of a tree.

Greg looked truly contrite.

“I’m so sorry, but Wayne keeps escaping from my farm!”

“Wayne?” echoed the vicar’s wife.

“Don’t ask,” responded Aunt Winnie.

It took many attempts by all five of them to pursue, coax and finally corner Wayne in the churchyard, so that Greg could carefully attach a rope leash. However, just at that moment a party of highly excited, chattering infants arrived for a carol service.

“Hey look!” cried a little boy in a bright red woolly hat. “I think that’s Rudolph!”

“Hello Rudolph!” cried all the other wide-eyed children in unison.

“So, are you Santa?” questioned a tiny girl clutching her battered teddy.

“No, I’m afraid not…” Greg hunkered down to the children’s height and spoke gently, “But Rudolph lives with me on my farm all year, and tonight he’s flying off to the North Pole to stay with Santa so he’ll be ready to help deliver all your presents on Christmas Eve!”

“Wow! So, will you miss him?” asked another little boy as he and his classmates gently stroked “Rudolph”.

“Of course!” Greg, raised a cynical eyebrow at Hannah. “But I’m not sure anyone else will…”

Fascinated, the children listened to Greg’s magical stories about Christmas and Hannah couldn’t help a soppy grin as she observed their little faces; but then she remembered her ransacked garden and felt distinctly stroppy all over again.

A few days later Hannah heard the low rumble of a tractor in the field behind and was quite amazed to see Greg appear through the hole in the hedge, stride purposefully towards the back door and hand her a carrier bag.

“I think these must be yours,” he said, doing his best to stifle a grin. Hannah raised a questioning eyebrow as she tentatively reached into the top of the bag and pulled out a pair of sturdy floral knickers and a slightly greying but serviceable white bra, recognising them both as Aunt Winnie’s.

“Oh dear…” she spluttered, mortified with embarrassment, “Um… how did…”

“It was dreadful weather; blowing a hoolie!” Greg cut in, eyes twinkling. “And I found them blown all over my top field.”

“That must have been the day I had to go in to work!” said Hannah, racking her brains. “Aunt Winnie must have done an undies wash, pegged them out to dry on the line and then forgot all about them!”

“So, they’re not yours then?” Greg flashed her a cheeky grin and, in that moment, Hannah couldn’t help noticing how very green his eyes were.

“Oh yes, I remember now!” confessed Aunt Winnie, appearing at the back door completely unabashed, “But thank you so much for retrieving them!”

Greg chuckled softly and wished them both a merry Christmas as he set off down the garden. But just as he reached the hole in the hedge, Aunt Winnie called after him.

“By the way! What are you doing for Christmas dinner? You’d be very welcome to join us here!”

Hannah’s mouth gaped open as she dug her Aunt Winnie in the ribs. What on earth was she thinking?

“Oh, sorry. I’ve far too much to do on the farm,” was Greg’s curt reply.

“Oh, please do come!” trilled Aunt Winnie. “I’ve asked the vicar and his wife as well –”

But Greg had vanished from view, his answer carried away by the breeze.

Christmas morning dawned picture-perfect. Fat flakes of snow were falling steadily and before long, with a log fire crackling merrily away and fairy lights sparkling in every room, Hannah breathed a happy sigh of relief that Christmas was finally here and her to-do list was all ticked off.

“But how will Greg get here?” asked Aunt Winnie anxiously.

“Well, he has a rather hefty tractor that could easily plough through the snow – and anyway, he didn’t commit to come today, did he?” explained Hannah.

“Oh, well, he’s such a terribly busy man!” Aunt Winnie was making excuses for him but Hannah wasn’t totally convinced.

However, it wasn’t long before the throbbing engine of a tractor could be heard in the field behind.

Aunt Winnie’s face lit up as she vigorously shook the par-boiled potatoes ready to roast. Hannah was pouring mulled wine for the vicar and his wife when she spotted Greg striding up the garden with bottles of wine and a Christmassy red poinsettia wrapped in sparkly paper and tinsel.

His long legs were encased in well-fitting jeans and a slinky black leather jacket was slung over his flashing Christmas Reindeer jumper; he certainly didn’t look like a farmer!

“Happy Christmas, Greg!” Aunt Winnie was giggling girlishly as she greeted him before whipping off her pinny with a flourish as she graciously received his gifts. Hannah primly stood back but couldn’t help but notice how dark and sexily wind-blown his hair was.

But then Greg reached into his pocket and handed her a red and black lacy balcony bra. “And this, I think, must be yours!” he said, his green eyes twinkling.

The vicar’s eyebrows shot up under his Santa hat as his wife’s jaw dropped open in astonishment.

“Oh… um…” Hannah gulped as she recognised her undergarment. “Where did you find it?”

“Wayne discovered it!” he explained. “It was hooked on a branch very close to where I rescued all your aunt’s undies!”

“Well, um… thank you…” Hannah busied herself at the oven, willing her blushes to fade just a little.

An hour later the golden, resplendent turkey was on the table, crackers had been pulled, toasts had been raised and the festivities were in full swing.

“This is great, thank you!” said Greg softly. Hannah passed him the cranberry sauce and couldn’t help noticing just how charming his smile was under his wonky paper hat.

By late afternoon, when Aunt Winnie, the vicar and his wife were rowdily involved in a competitive game of charades, Greg leaned over to Hannah, suggesting a quick walk.

Hannah nodded and fetched her coat and boots but as they reached the bottom of the garden, she realised she’d forgotten her woolly mitts.

“Don’t worry.” Greg handed her a glove, “we can share mine. You can wear the left and I’ll wear the right and I’ll hold your free hand to keep it toasty warm.”

Hannah was about to object but found she didn’t want to after all.

“Those stars look so lovely and Christmassy,” she commented as Greg led the way across the snow until, they were almost on top of the hill, coming to a stop under an apple tree.

I do hate to see good mistletoe going to waste, don’t you?

He glanced up at the huge bunch growing above them and then brushed her mouth with the gentlest of kisses. “I’ve wanted to do that since I first saw you that day when you stood at my door looking so angry…”

“And you were awfully rude to me!” Hannah retaliated. However she readily melted into his embrace as he kissed her again, this time rather more thoroughly.

It was some time later when they walked across to Wayne’s field where the mischievous reindeer was waiting patiently for his supper.

“I see he’s got a flashy new collar?” observed Hannah, stroking his nose.

“That’s because he’s now electronically tagged,” Greg informed her. “So the next time he escapes, I can easily track his precise location!”

Hannah chuckled and raised her eyebrows. “So maybe we should tag Aunt Winnie’s undies too?”

Greg wrapped her in a big warm hug as they both rocked into laughter.

“That,” he said, his green eyes twinkling, “sounds like a splendid idea!”

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Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.