There is a lot of discussion this season about the fact that both male and female reindeer grow antlers. Was Rudolph then female? Or was it Rudolph at all? Rudolph or Ruby – we know the story through the song.
Long before the song came out there was a story written in 1939 by Robert May, about a wee reindeer who was excluded by his peers. His physical development was a little slower and he had the unusual characteristic of a glowing nose. May claims the story, which he wrote for a department store Christmas promotional booklet, reflected his own childhood.
In the story and on the night before Christmas, Santa had enlisted his ‘best’ reindeer to drive the sleigh and had given those reindeer who were not on sled duty important toy tasks. Rudolph observed this from the holly bush in which he was hiding. He was not only overlooked but forgotten. His loneliness overcame him and he boldly stepped forward in the foggy night air. Santa thought he was a ‘lamp’ but Rudolph, trembling with insecurity, ensured Santa that what he saw was a nose and not a lamp.
That did it. Santa insisted he take the lead and the other reindeers were so impressed they helped him into harness. The rest is history.
In 1949 the song was written and many movies and adaptations have followed. The song captures the young reindeer’s exclusion because of his differences and then the about face of the other reindeer when they realized his talent.
Life isn’t quite that black and white and although the acceptance for his talent is respected, what about the rest of the creature Rudolph? Who was he, what did he feel and how did he cope going forward? How did he, like the author of the story, use his experience to help others?
If you are a Rudolph or Ruby and feeling different, excluded or lonely. If you are scared, vulnerable or on the edge. If your distinction makes people uncomfortable – know that you don’t need a glowing nose or any other masterful accomplishment to be valued, accepted and loved. You were created and then evolved to your own perfection.
In my own story I made people uncomfortable because of my differences, my gender, my values and my experiences. Rather than ‘hiding in the holly’, I choose to show up: for I believe in the purpose and the beauty of an individual regardless of the journey and in the possible in each little reindeer.
To all of you who feel unique, adrift, outcast or mysterious – I invite you to step out in your own time and challenge the status quo, writing the script of your story – for that in itself is how history is made. Know that you were born a leader – by your own definition – and that your being here brings light and joy to this world.
And, if you are a Ruby reindeer or have one in your herd – then this is for you.
Ruby the Reindeer
“Ruby the bright young reindeer
Really had a mind that knows
And if you every met her
You would even say she glowed.
Some of the other reindeers,
Bullied her and called her names
They often laughed at Ruby
Hoping she would wear the shame.
Then one foggy working eve
She simply had to say
‘I’m Ruby with a mind so bright
And I will lead the sleigh this night!’
Then all the reindeers gathered
Remembering that they’re a team
And, Ruby the bright young reindeer
Became a part of history.”
Copyright @BrendaSchoepp (2021)