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OUT TO PASTOR: From roast turkey to reindeer

Nothing is more confusing than being in the middle of two holidays.

I have just finished Thanksgiving, and now Christmas is before me. 

For months, the focus was on that roast turkey for Thanksgiving. And boy, was it a delicious roast turkey. I have a hard time comparing this year’s roast turkey to last year’s because I always love the one I’m eating at the time. And I cannot go back in time to last year’s turkey. That turkey has been digested a long time ago.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were sitting in the living room, resting from all the activity during the season and watching TV.

I think she outdid herself this year because everything seemed to be perfect. Everybody in the family complimented her on the Thanksgiving dinner.

I began complimenting her on this year’s roast turkey and telling her how much I loved it.

I wasn’t lying because I did like the turkey this year. 

Not only the turkey we had on Thanksgiving Day – but also all the leftover turkey we had the following week. We had enough leftovers at Thanksgiving dinner to serve dinner every day for the next week.

Nothing is better than leftovers, as far as I’m concerned.

I ain’t complaining.

Sitting in the living room, I looked at The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and asked, “Are you planning to make roast reindeer for Christmas?”

She just scowled at me and did not answer. I wasn’t going to give up.

“After all,” I said, “your roast turkey this year was absolutely supreme. The best you’ve ever done. I bet you could do a great job roasting a reindeer this year.”

Looking at me, she said, “Do you want to get off Santa’s naughty list this year?”

I did not know what to say because I did not know if she was joking or what. 

Being on Santa’s naughty list in our house is a very dangerous position.

For some reason, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has a connection with Santa Claus.

I’m not sure what that connection is, and I’m not in a position where I can ask.

I was quiet for a few seconds, then cleared my throat, and looking at The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage, I asked, “How did I get on Santa’s naughty list this year?”

Staring at me, she said, “Do you really want me to tell you?”

There is nothing like being between a turkey and a reindeer during the holiday season to wreck your nerves.

The question that burned in my heart was, what did I do to get on Santa’s naughty list? I knew I would be in more trouble if I asked her to tell me. So, I thought about another angle.

“Can you tell me,” I asked as soberly as possible, “how I can get off Santa’s naughty list?”

She stared at the TV for a moment and did not seem to hear what I was saying. 

I briefly thought, should I repeat myself?

Finally, she turned, looked at me for a few moments and then said, “Do you really want to know how to get off of Santa’s naughty list?”

Oh boy. What’s coming next? If I don’t know how I got on Santa’s naughty list, how in the world am I going to figure out how to get off?

Looking at her, I smiled gently and said, “If getting off Santa’s naughty list makes you happy, then that’s exactly what I want to do.” I finished with a big smile on my face.

“Well,” she said rather thoughtfully, “maybe if this week you take me thrift store shopping I might be able to think about it and figure it out for you.”

That caught me by surprise. That would be the last thing in the world that I would ever want to do. Spending a whole day going from one thrift store to another is not my idea of having fun.

“And,” she said, “if in our thrift store shopping we find a reindeer, you can buy it, and I will roast it for you.”

I never know if she is joking or setting me up. I had to think about that for some time, not knowing the proper answer.

Finally, I sighed deeply and said, “OK, my dear, I’ll be glad to take you thrift store shopping anytime this week. And, I’ll be glad to purchase that reindeer when you find it.”

I tried to smile back at her, but it was very difficult to find an appropriate smile in my inventory.

“Ha, ha, ha,” she laughed very heartily.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Oh my dear,” she laughed, “you just got off of Santa’s naughty list. Congratulations.”

Later that day, as I was considering this, I was reminded of what Amos said, “Can two walk together, except they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

Sometimes, life is better when two people agree. It may be difficult to come to an agreement, but the rewards are worth the effort.


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone is (352) 216-3025, e-mail is, and website is

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