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Dan St. Yves: A winter sleigh ride

Here’s a brief seasonal break from my typical real estate silliness.

Something I had always wanted to do around this time of year was surprise my wife by taking her out on a traditional, seasonal sleigh ride – just like the aptly named classic holiday song that invariably comes back on the radio in early October, leading up and into the official holiday season.

However, I am economical at heart, so when I happened by chance one weekend to notice an ad for “Elmer’s Discount Authentic Sleigh Rides With You (Lovely Weather Not Guaranteed)”, I felt that I could combine this unique experience with some general frugality.

The following Saturday afternoon, we climbed into our vehicle aiming for the mountains, taking in some of the surrounding scenery along the way. I have to admit, winter is always far more attractive when snow is bending the boughs of trees, and Jack Frost is nipping at your nose. And boy, can Jack nip when you’re trying to push your car out of a snowy mountain road rut covered with a sheet of ice.

As we approached the address, I imagined turning into a parking lot filled with jolly revellers –- eager fellow sleigh-riders – with a crackling bonfire uniting the group in seasonal harmony as we all awaited our turn on this magical horse-drawn carriage.

While the sign hanging somewhat lopsided and vicariously from the entry to the farm indeed indicated “Elmer’s Discount Authentic Sleigh Rides With You – Lovely Weather Not Guaranteed”, the un-shovelled driveway leading into the property suggested there might be an absence of revelling further along the roadway.

Driving up to the main cabin, we chuckled between ourselves at the funny display the owners had placed just outside the door – what seemed to be a pair of toboggans lashed together, on top of a rusty old snowmobile chassis. The garland strung around the sides almost made the contraption look festive!

It was only when we noticed the empty harness lying connected to the front of the makeshift vehicle that we both got chills entirely unrelated to Jack and his nipping frost. That was right about the time someone we presumed had to be Elmer opened the door and stepped outside, with a warm smile on his face. So many missing teeth.

It was Deliverance, in the snow…

Never really all that good at saying “no”, I got out of the car and shook Elmer’s hand. What the hay, I thought (no pun actually intended, but it’s right there) – how bad could this rig run? As it turned out, the rig was the least of our worries.

Daisy was the “authentic” part of the sleigh ride advertisement. Daisy may have been involved in the very first sleigh ride ever. I worried how one might perform CPR on a horse, once we were too far from the barn. Elmer began to fit her into the harness. Daisy made it easier by lying down sideways on the driveway, whilst moaning.

It was my wife, in her infinite wisdom, who called both my and Elmer’s bluff. There was no way she intended on pursuing this farce, long-held dream or not. I expect we weren’t the first couple to tell Elmer that we would be passing on an authentic sleigh ride, as he smiled and led Daisy back to the barn. I see now why the terms were payment in full in advance, no refunds.

Driving back to town and looking at all the snow-covered pine trees reflecting in our headlights along the way, I made a casual comment about how we had always talked about going out into the woods one winter and chopping down our own Christmas tree.

Funny, judging by the look she shot at me, you’d think I’d had some kind of harebrained adventure in mind.

Next time around (if ever), I expect that I’ll dispense with the frugality.