Written by Randy Brooks and originally released by Dr. Elmo and Patsy Shropshire in 1979, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” has become a popular holiday song.

It tells a family tale about a Christmas season which goes horribly wrong for the grandmother. Apparently, on Christmas Eve, Grandma finds trouble on the streets while walking home. Allegedly, she gets run over by one or more of Santa’s reindeers. The injuries, it is assumed, cause her death.

So, what went wrong that night? Could there be a medical explanation for Grandma’s unfortunate accident? To find the answer, the Pennsylvania Health News Service Project asked several medical sleuths to investigate and offer opinions.

Key Leads from the Song

Possibly some of the biggest clues to this investigation come very early in the song …

She’d been drinkin’ too much egg nog
And we’d begged her not to go
But she’d left her medication
So she stumbled out the door into the snow

According to medical sleuths, this verse may offer some angles to investigate. From this section of the song, we know she may have been intoxicated, she forgot her medication, and she may have had difficulty walking.