Dec 092009

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“Yes,” my visitor told me, glowering over the steam of his warm Christmas toddy.  “The whole thing was the fault of the reindeer.”

rudolph“Reindeer?”  I said.

“You know: Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.  But it’s amazing how many people don’t recall the one who should have been the most famous reindeer of all.”

“And who was that?”

“Rudolph.  They called him the red-nosed reindeer.”


“Of course he was a reindeer,” snapped the visitor.  “What did you think, a pekingese?”

“But then why did they call him red-nosed?”

“Because he had a very shiny nose, silly.”

“Like a light bulb?”

“More or less.  If you ever saw it, you would probably say it glows.”

“I see.”

“Well, as you can imagine, all of the other reindeer–“


“Why do you keep asking that?  I already told you it was reindeer.”

“Sorry,” I said. “I guess I’m just not used to hearing grown-ups talk about mythological creatures as though they’re real.”

“What makes you think they’re not real?”

“Well, I’ve never seen one, so….”

“Uh-huh.  And I suppose you don’t believe in the Solar System or gamma rays or the Elizabethan Age or my Aunt Marge in Cincinnatti, since you’ve never seen them?  More people believe in the existence of flying reindeer than believe in the existence of flugelhorns, I’ll have you know.”

“I see.  Please continue.”

“Where was I?  Ah yes.  All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.”

“Like ‘Pinocchio’?”

“How’d you know that?”

“I was in Junior High once myself.”

“Ah.  Then it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.”

“Like Monopoly?”

“More like Flying Squirrel Tag and Antlerball, but you’ve got the idea.”

“So what happened to Rudolph?”

“Well, things kept up like this for most of his life.  Then one Christmas Eve, it was unusually foggy.  So Santa came to say…”

“Ho, ho, ho?”

“Come again?”

“Santa as in ‘Ho ho ho’?”

“Is there another?”

“I suppose not.”

“Well then.  Santa came and said, ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?'”

“Does he always talk in rhyme like that?”

“Usually.  It goes with the whole ‘Jolly Old Elf’ image.”

“Of course.  So what did Rudolph say?”

“He said, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me.'”


“That’s right.  He said, ‘All my life in this place I’ve been made fun of, and left out, and kicked around because of my nose.  And now all of a sudden when there’s something oh-so-important that you need me for, you come to me and expect me to help you?  I don’t think so.’

“Then all the other reindeer got worried, and they said, ‘ But Rudolph, we all love you!’

“And Rudolph said, ‘Yeah right you do.  I suppose ‘Pinocchio Face’ is a term of endearment?  And kicking me out of the Antlerball tournament was an act of kindness?  And now that Santa’s talking to me, I’m something special; is that how it works?  You pathetic hypocrites, you make me sick.  Let me ask you, give me one good reason I should even consider helping you.’

“And the reindeer said, ‘Uh… you’ll go down in history?’

“‘Sure I will!’ said Rudolph.  ‘Like Columbus, I suppose.  Now get out of here before I say something I regret.'”

“That’s incredible!” I said.  “So what happened?  Was Christmas ruined?”

“Not really,” said the visitor.  “Santa went back to his workshop wondering what to do next, and he decided to check his list a third time.  It turned out that the little boys and girls of the world had all been treating each other the way the reindeer treated Rudolph, or else reacting to such treatment as badly as Rudolph had done.  That meant that everybody had to go on the naughty list except for seventeen or so, most of whom lived in a Mennonite community in central Iowa.  So Santa was able to make all his deliveries that year on a borrowed motorcycle.”

“That’s truly amazing,” I said.  “I’m surprised I haven’t heard of that before.”

“Well, it’s not as though there was any lack of presents, you know, the whole commercial angle.  Not many children noticed that none of their presents had come from Santa.”

“I’ve often wondered how Christmas got so commercialized,” I said, taking another sip of cocoa.

“Ah,” said my visitor, a strange and ferocious gleam coming into his eye.  “Now that all started with this snowman who thought it would be a good idea to run away from law enforcement….”

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By Eric M. Pazdziora, who must have been in a bad mood that day. Copyright © 2007