Everyone knows Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer because he’s the most famous reindeer of all, but the odds are you have never heard of his son, Randall. After the night that made Rudolph famous, he soon married Clarice and started a family. Unlike Rudolph, however, Randall was completely normal, and Randall hated that. He wanted to be special like his dad. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a glowing red nose or anything unique like glow in the dark antlers, or the ability to breathe fire, which would’ve really been cool. Randall was so typical he didn’t even have a giant red pimple, super white teeth that sparkled, or unusually bad breath. There was nothing that made him stand out. He even had a beige bedroom that was next to his sister Belinda’s as he didn’t even have the weird only child thing happening. Randall came from a healthy nuclear family with a nurturing mom and a dad who was engaged in the family life as best he could despite work. The only thing that really stood out about Randall’s life was his dad. Everywhere Rudolph went he would get stopped for a hoof signing and picture. Even if the family was there, excited creatures would go up to Rudolph causing the family to get pushed aside by the eager fans. It really left Randall feeling like he didn’t matter; he felt like a misfit.
This idea of wanting to stand out isn’t even an unusual concept, and Randall’s inability wasn’t for a lack of trying. He didn’t play the victim and just whine about it. He had actually tried really hard to find something where he would stand out, but without any luck. Randall tried being in running competitions and doing all the reindeer games like sleigh pulling and eating contests, but he was average. He tried singing, but reindeer are terrible singers no matter how much they practice. He tried dentistry, but that’s pretty difficult without, you know, hands, which also made toy making not his niche. Randall even tried looking for precious metals like silver and gold, discovering a forgotten land, and befriending scary creatures like Abominable Snowmen, but nothing seemed to work. Probably the worst thing he tried was swimming because reindeer don’t float; thankfully, Mr. Narwhal was there to help. Randall couldn’t even belch his name to impress his buddies. He had nothing to help him stand out no matter what he did or how hard he tried.
Then one normal Christmas Eve, Rudolph came to say, “Santa doesn’t need me, so I get to spend the night with the family. This is fantastic!” Clarice and Belinda were thrilled to have Rudolph home with them on this magical night, but Rudolph noticed that Randall wasn’t around. This was strange because Randall always loved being with the family on Christmas Eve. Like any decent parent, Rudolph went looking for him and eventually found him where he always went whenever he was upset. With the voice of a genuinely loving parent, Rudolph enquired, “I’m guessing something is going on. Want to talk?”
Randall was too embarrassed to share what was bothering him, so he just shifted away from his dad. Rudolph continued, “It’s Christmas Eve and I actually have the night off, so I was hoping to spend it with my three favourite reindeer.” Randall shifted again. “You can play ring toss with my antlers like you always enjoy. We can pretend to pull Santa’s sleigh…”
“There’s no point!” interrupted Randall.
“Why’s that?” Rudolph asked surprised.
“Because I’m not good at anything,” Randall retorted.
“You’re not good at anything?” Like a typical parent, Rudolph was about to give a list of things to prove him wrong, which never helps, but fortunately Rudolph was interrupted.
“I know I can do things, but I’m not the best at anything. I’m ordinary. I’m completely ordinary!”
Rudolph was confused because all he had wanted at Randall’s age was to be ordinary, so he asked confused, “What’s wrong with that?”
“I want to be extraordinary like you!” exclaimed Randall.
“Extraordinary? I’m a reindeer with a birth defect that came in handy… once,” explained Rudolph.
“But you’re famous. Everyone knows you and wants your autograph and photo.”
“Yeah, I can see why the attention looks good, but it’s actually pretty annoying. I never get to be normal and not have to worry about how I look or what I’m doing because I know if I say or do anything really dumb it’ll make the news, and become a bigger issue.”
“But everyone loves you.”
“It definitely looks that way when people stop me, but they love the idea of me; they don’t actually love me.” Rudolph paused to think for a moment and then continued, “There’s nothing about me that makes me better than anyone else; I’m just me, which is a lot like you minus this nose that your mom complains can keep her up at night. I’m an ordinary guy who had an incredible experience.” To change gears Rudolph asked, “Do you know what I wish?” Randall was silent. “I wish I was ordinary, and not have people interrupt my time with you.”
“What about all the excitement people get when they see you?” Randall questioned.
Rudolph grinned, “I’ll be honest, every once in awhile it feels pretty good to have people excited to see me, but other times I feel embarrassed. I don’t think that I did anything great. I just did what I could do to help. Anyone else with my defect would have done the same. I was simply at the right place at the right time.” Randall was starting to understand what his dad was telling him, and he began to feel better about who he was. Rudolph added, “The only thing I’m always happy about is being with you… except when you were a baby and cried all night. That wasn’t ideal… you cried a lot.” This made Randall sheepishly smile. “I hope that you can enjoy being ordinary, and that your life will have some extraordinary moments like mine did. I also hope you’ll never be famous because being a celebrity makes ordinary life really complicated.” Randall was now a little more himself, so his dad asked, “Are you ready to have an ordinary night with your ordinary family that has a dad with a birth defect?” And with that, the two left Randall’s hiding spot and joined their family for a night of reindeer games and caroling – terrible, off key caroling. This Christmas wasn’t the incredible experience Rudolph had years before, but it was still incredible in its own way because he got to have a special connecting moment with his son. There are many possible experiences we can have in life that are incredible; some are heroic while others are simple. The key is to put ourselves in places where we’re more likely to experience them, which is often the case when we’re with loved ones enjoying this most wonderful time of the year.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, Learning to love dumb people