So it seems, my dear readers, that we have come to our final tale. The story of stories, myth of myth’s and legend of legend’s.
The lie of lies.
Let me take you back. Way back to the day a little reindeer was born. A reindeer with a red nose.
Rudolph came into the world by the traditional means: a stork carrying a blanket delivered him to Donna and David Deer.
They loved him as soon as they saw him, as parents do. And when his nose began to glow around the age of two (the movie may have sped up the timeline) they were delighted! Their baby was special and everyone would know it.
They did not fear he would be persecuted. We are talking about the North Pole; the most diverse and accepting place in the whole world after all.
Rudolph started deer training school as do all North Pole deer around the age of five. As his parents expected, his bright glowing nose was met with exclamations of delight and wonder.
He became very popular very quickly. Rudolph was known to be charming and witty and sometimes he was bright. He was also daring, wanting to do and try things no one had before or that had been expressly forbidden.
Of course that only made him more popular.
One day when Rudolph was a little bit older there was an awards ceremony for the graduating class and for any reindeer who had shown extraordinary ability in the younger classes.
Santa himself came down to deliver the awards to meet the deer that would eventually work for him, either pulling his sleigh on Christmas Eve, being on a backup team or being on a sled team for local trips.
Not all the deer would go into a career at the North Pole, of course, but they all dreamed of it.
Santa stood before the deer who had just received awards, Rudolph among them. He wore just black suspenders and white long johns, hands on the wood podium they had placed before him.
“Future sleigh deer, I stand before you truly impressed with this years talent.” To be fair this was the standard speech. Also to be fair, every year the talent did improve.
But then Santa did something unexpected.
“I don’t usually do this,” he began, causing every deer who had ever dreamed that Santa would call them up on stage and recognize them as being the best that he had ever seen to hold their breath. “There is one deer that I believe may be of great use to my team as soon as this Christmas Eve!”
What? Santa was adding a member to the team? The team that had been together for centuries was getting a new member and it was one of them?!
Dead silence filled the air as snow began to fall from a crystal blue sky. Snow is a good omen in the North Pole, you know. They are a very optimistic people.
No one dared to do anything other than stare and listen.
“Rudolph come on up here!” Santa said. Nobody said anything for a long second while Rudolph trotted up to the front, chest out and head held high. His nose was glowing like the first star out on an early summer night, lighting through the fog that was descending with the snow.
The cheers began slowly but when they came they were genuine and emphatic. But there was more than disappointment in that pause.
Rudolph was an all right flyer, not as fast or as steady as some of the others. His own father had been the top of his class and stories about his speed and agility had reached legendary proportions, perpetrated by the very deer who had taught David, but he had never made the sleigh team.
Rudolph was okay, as I said, but he had a long way to go. Even his teacher, who theoretically should have been proud of his student, gaped at Santa wondering if he had gone senile.
All the deer who spent hours after class training and practicing while Rudolph followed the doe’s around or did some crazy stunt felt their heart sinks.
But Rudolph was their friend and they were proud that someone from their class had made it, so they cheered and started dreaming of next year.
Santa put a hand up to silence the growingly rowdy group.
“Rudolph,” he said speaking to Rudolph but loud enough for the class to hear, “Won’t you join my sleigh this Christmas? We could really use you on those foggy Christmas Eve nights,” (which is most Christmas Eve’s in most of the world) “Will you lead my team?”
There were excited murmurs of “lead?” No one leads the sleigh team. They work together, paired off. Or at least they always had for as long as anyone there had been alive. What Santa was suggesting was considered ludicrous.
Then they all silently began to wonder if Santa had consulted the sleigh team who were conspicuously absent and, if he had, what they thought of a child being put out in front of them to guide them around the world.
Understand, we all knew the logic behind Santa’s decision but the sleigh team was royalty in the North Pole. They were looked up to and admired almost as much as the big man himself. To suggest someone so young, who had never even left Candy Cane Village lead them just because his nose glowed seemed like a slap in the face. They had been fine through the fog for centuries after all.
You might think Rudolph would have said yes(he would be crazy not to, right?) and that would be the end of this story.
But you would be wrong.
It’s okay. It happens to all of us sometimes.
Rudolph said no.
“Santa,” Rudolph began, “Thank you for the offer. Truly. But I don’t want to be on the sleigh team. I have bigger dreams than that.”
Then Rudolph stepped off the stage and no one heard or saw him again for almost five years til he walked back to the cave where he had been born to find only his father, dying and alone. Nothing like the regal, proud father Rudolph had grown up with. Not even a shadow of his former self.
The story Rudolph would later learn was that after he had left his mother, fearing the worst had sunken into a deep depression. She wouldn’t eat and she wouldn’t drink. She just wasted away. David followed her shortly, dying of a broken heart.
For now, though, Rudolph just went and lay next to his father who barely looked at him until he finally took his last breaths.
Rudolph stumbled a few days later out of that cave after his father had faded away to dust and magic as all magical creatures do.
Rudolph, feeling every bit the disappointment, headed straight for Santa’s workshop.
Santa was in the stables brushing Prancer when Rudolph walked in.
“Rudolph!” Santa exclaimed in surprise and delight.
“I’m ready to join your sleigh team, Mr. Claus.”
“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Rudolph. You have proven yourself too unreliable. I’m sorry.” Santa said.
Rudolph looked lost and confused.
“You said you needed me.”
“I said we could use you and that is still true. But if you can’t decide what it is you want I can’t ask the other deer to follow you. You don’t work for the team, Rudolph. You work for you. That won’t be good when we’re out there being pummeled by snow and ice and wind. You have to trust each other. I’m afraid you’re not trustworthy.” Santa said; Prancer nodded in vigorous agreement.
“But I know what I want now.”
“I’m sorry, Rudolph.” Santa answered; and he genuinely was. It was not in his nature to hurt people, intentionally or otherwise, unless he had no choice. In Santa’s mind, as much as he knew what Rudolph could do and that he could grow to be great leader he had to do what was best for the team right now.
Rudolph wandered out into an oncoming storm, disappearing except for the glow from his nose into darkness.
He would return, a month later, with a lawyer known around the world for taking on high profile cases for people who believed they were victims but that had not actually been victimized. She almost always won, despite her reputation.
Rudolph was suing Santa to be on his sleigh team and they would go to court out of the immediate area where no one had ever heard of Rudolph or personally met Santa before.
The court case took one day. Santa made his case, telling the truth (his first mistake) from his side of the story. He told the judge, whose name was Hearney from the Island of Misfit Toys who had once dreamed of becoming a dentist, about offering Rudolph a place on his sleigh team. He had people testify to Rudolph’s often reckless and unpredictable behavior.
Then the lawyer, Gloria, stood up in her blue power suit and spoke the words that a dwarf in the courtroom would later publish as a song.
“You know Dasher and Dancer, of course. Prance and Vixen. Comet, Cupid Donder and Blitzen. But you have never heard of this deer. This reindeer who should be the most famous of all. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Rudolph, as though on cue, had his nose began to glow a bright blinding red.
Gloria then began to spin for the courtroom, and the mistreated elf judge, the tale you are now familiar with and sing a variation of several times in a year. The tale of a mistreated, downtrodden reindeer who only ever dreamed of being on Santa’s team but was never allowed because of his “deformity” Then Santa had offered him a position only to take it away from him.
A story you now know to be completely false.
Anyway, long story short since you know how it ends.
Santa lost the case; Herney, being a misfit himself empathized with the deer and ruled that Rudolph deserved to be on the team since Santa himself had said he would be a good addition.
The legal system doesn’t always work even in the magic lands.
Or it works perfectly based on your perspective.
Rudolph’s first flight was an exceptionally foggy night and Santa was glad to have him, fearing that even his highly trained deer would have gotten lost.
The rest of the team followed Rudolph because they were professional but when they were on the ground, for the first time in his life, Rudolph really was an exile.
As the years have gone by, the team has come to accept him and he apologized for his childish lawsuit. He even offered to leave the team but no one would hear of it.
Finally, they grew to be the team Santa had always believed they could be.
They just didn’t get there the way you were told they did.
So there you have it. The true Christmas stories.
Nothing is what it seems, is it? But that doesn’t mean that these stories lose their meaning because of how they really happened.
Except Frosty. There is no excuse for Frosty.
Jack found his calling in a curse and Rudolph through a lawsuit. But they became who they needed to be and they serve the world yearly.
And who is to tell what will become of them in the future? What stories will you be telling your children? What stories will they tell theirs?
A story hasn’t done it’s a job unless the reader gets something from it.
So let this be your lesson this Christmas season:
It’s never too late. You have not laid down your pen and your story is not over. You may not be where you wish you were or who you wish to be but you aren’t finished yet.