Everything changed for Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer the day after he saved Christmas. When Rudolph returned to the workshop after his big night leading the sleigh, everyone in the North Pole was waiting to celebrate. It was an incredible time for him. Rudolph finally felt accepted, which was all he ever wanted. The following weeks, however, things got a little weird. For instance, there was an influx of letters arriving at the North Pole. Letters being sent to the North Pole was pretty normal, but they typically arrived in December before Christmas and they were always addressed to Santa. These letters, however, came after Christmas and were addressed to Rudolph. Kids and parents alike were sending letters to thank Rudolph for what he had done. Apparently someone from the workshop leaked what happened to the media and the story was everywhere about how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer saved Christmas. There were even rumors of a song and TV special being made about him. This was an incredible switch from what Rudolph had experienced just a short time before. Not even a month ago, he was a misfit and an outcast, but now he was a hero. It was really quite overwhelming for him.
One of the people who contacted the North Pole wanted to use Rudolph as a way to promote the next Christmas. If Rudolph agreed, this would mean he’d have to leave the workshop for a year, so he’d be away from his family and friends again. This time, however, it would be on his own. Hermey, the former misfit elf, had started his own dental practice that had a line of elves and animals waiting to see him. Yukon Cornelius was busy with a new found love of polishing the silver cutlery at the workshop. And it wasn’t appropriate for Rudolph to travel alone with his female friend, Clarice (this is a family rated story). Leaving his family and friends seemed too much for him to bear, so Rudolph declined the offer… or at least he had until Santa came to talk to him. Santa told him it would be a big help if he went. Santa confessed that he was under harsh criticism for not having a plan in place for inclement weather and the North Pole could use the positive PR to help overshadow the negative press. When Rudolph agreed to do this for Santa, he added, “Don’t worry Santa; I’ll be back in time for next year.”
This caused Santa’s face to drop as he replied, “Yeah… it’ll be great to have you around to wish the team luck.”
“What do you mean?” Rudolph asked confused.
“Well… um… we only need eight reindeer to pull the sleigh, and I already have my usual team; plus, I have my list of substitutes ready to go if anything happens to my regulars.”
“What if there’s bad weather again?” questioned Rudolph.
“I have an elf team already fitting the sleigh with a new lighting system to help me if next year is like this one. They’re also giving me a cover over the sleigh to help keep me warm when we’re flying. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this stuff sooner.”
“So you don’t need me?” asked Rudolph.
“I need you like I need everyone else. I need you to help share Christmas cheer, and right now you have the opportunity to spread it around the world. Your new role is particularly important.”
Rudolph was torn. He wanted to play his part for Santa, but he hadn’t thought his part would be… marketing and that it would mean he’d be on his own.
Rudolph soon found himself leaving the North Pole and this would be for much longer than a night. The idea was Rudolph would do a whirlwind year of marketing and preparation that was to culminate into one big climatic moment when he would be officially revealed to the world on live TV standing in front of a large studio audience. It ended up being a very busy year with a lot of sneaking around and being hush-hush because no one was allowed to get a sneak peak of Rudolph. Besides the handful of marketing experts, everyone had to wait until the day after American Thanksgiving to see him. That’s when the world would finally know who Rudolph was, the reindeer who had saved Christmas the year before.
The main problem with all this sneaking around is Rudolph lost connection to home. He tried calling but the time difference and work schedules made it difficult, and they couldn’t call him because no one was allowed to know where he was. Rudolph sent a few letters he had a human write for him, but he had no idea if anyone received them. Plus, it was getting harder to not have his letters just be him whining about how bad he felt. What added to the problem was Rudolph was always on the move, and he was never able to build a sense of home. On top of this, the people he worked with treated him like an object. There was no sense of love or connection. At least before all of this he had his friends Hermey and Yukon Cornelius. Now, he was all alone, and there wasn’t any hope because he didn’t know what there was to hope for anymore. He didn’t know if his family missed him or even remembered him.
Moments before Rudolph was supposed to be revealed on TV to a live studio audience, he was introduced to the announcer who was really excited to meet the famous reindeer. He was a pleasant man, but Rudolph just wasn’t his normal self; he was worn out and discouraged. The man noticed the sadness behind Rudolph’s eyes, so he asked him, “Are you okay?” Rudolph nodded his head, which led the man to say, “I’ve seen a lot of people about to go in front of an audience and they’re usually excited or scared. You look emotionally beaten.”
“It’s nothing,” replied a discouraged Rudolph, but the man just stared at him. Rudolph soon caved and started to share, “I don’t want to be here.”
The man gently questioned, “Aren’t you excited about how you’re helping people?”
This led to Rudolph’s guard fully cracking, “How am I helping people? I’m just a puppet. Sure, I led Santa’s sleigh last year, but he doesn’t need me anymore, so I’m being given all this praise, and it’s for nothing.”
The man was used to working with emotional guest stars, so he knew not to disagree; he simply affirmed, “That must really hurt.”
“Yeah, it hurts! All I want is to be able to give people a great Christmas, and here I am…”
“About to give a lot of people a great Christmas,” interjected the announcer.
Rudolph was confused by this comment. “How am I giving people a great Christmas?”
The announcer smiled, “Because you give us hope.”
Instead of it being an encouragement, Rudolph was all the more sad at this idea, “How can I give people hope when I don’t have any myself? I helped Santa, but I didn’t have to train or work for that privilege. I was just born with a deformity.”
“Yes! And that’s why this is so inspiring!” cheered the announcer. Rudolph was now very confused. How was using his deformity good? Fortunately the man continued, “Your so called deformity was used in a great way. Who hasn’t been born with something they’re insecure about? You give hope to all of us that the thing we hate about ourselves, the thing we are most insecure about, that very thing may be what helps us do something great.”
Rudolph liked what the man said, but it didn’t help the real problem he had. “What you’re saying makes sense, but… but I’m lonely,” confessed Rudolph. “All these people supposedly love me, but they don’t know me and I don’t know them. Having so many people cheer for me just makes me feel all the more alone.”
“That,” affirmed the man, “That is what we will need to address… after the show, of course. Now it’s time to put on your performer’s face, and pretend life is great.” And with that, the only person who had given Rudolph a glimpse of companionship and understanding over this past year walked to his post at a microphone behind the stage curtain where he started speaking. “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the time we’ve been waiting for. Today we finally get to meet the one who saved Christmas; the one who symbolizes hope. Today we meet Rudolph!”
Without need for further prompting, the crowd burst into cheers and Rudolph was ushered onto the stage. Rudolph was immediately blinded by the bright stage lights, which caused him to bow his head. He was sad, scared, and now he was temporarily blinded. This was a bad moment… but he wanted to be strong. Rudolph liked what the announcer said. He wanted to give hope to others even if he didn’t have any himself. With his head bowed low, Rudolph began to make his nose glow. And as he lifted his head to acknowledge the crowd, he heard a familiar voice he hadn’t heard in quite some time say, “Rudolph.” And then he heard another familiar voice, “Rudolph,” and another, “Rudolph,” and another. As Rudolph fully regained his eyesight, there in the front row were his parents, his friends Hermey and Yukon Cornelius, and most importantly, Clarice. Suddenly, Rudolph’s nose shone brighter than ever before. It filled the room and left people in awe. Rudolph’s red nose was the most beautiful thing the people in that room had ever seen. It shone so bright because Rudolph had found his hope. He didn’t need to be leading Santa’s sleigh; he didn’t need praise or fame. He just needed to know that he was loved by the people who mattered the most to him. And after months of not knowing if he was even remembered, Rudolph realized he was, in fact, loved, and that made all the difference in the world.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, Learning to love dumb people