The song of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer dates from 1939, when the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company asked one of their copywriters to come up with a Christmas story they could give away to shoppers as a promotional gimmick. Robert L. May rejected a few names for the story (Rollo, Reginald) before landing upon Rudolph as the star of his short booklet. It wasn’t until later when May’s brother-in-law and songwriter, Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for the song we all know and love, that the phenomenon really took off. Gene Autry recorded the song in 1949, sold two million copies in that same year, and propelled it to an American Christmas standard.
The original story written by May was substantially different than the song later concocted by Marks. Rudolph originally lived with his parents in a non-descript reindeer village and was discovered by Santa when doing his rounds on a particularly foggy Christmas Eve. Santa noticed the red glow coming from Rudolph’s room and asked him to lead his team to ensure a safe and happy Christmas for all. The song written by Marks could have been a story written by Hollywood; a downtrodden underdog is discovered for his secret talent which, until that moment, has been his reason for being outcast from society. In the original version, Rudolph’s nose wasn’t a hindrance to his social life.
If you truly analyze the song’s lyrics, is it a message we want conveyed to our kids?
Rudolph was largely ignored by all the other reindeer because of his ugly nose. It glowed red for God’s sake! What an ugly and weird reindeer, he must have coodies. They wouldn’t even let him join in any reindeer games. Rudolph may as well have had the plague or reindeer AIDS.
But then, on the most important night of the year for reindeer, a heavy fog rolls in. Suddenly Santa’s normal reindeer, the pride of reindeer all over the world, are of no use to him. They can’t guide him through the weather. If he weren’t careful, he could end up an ornament on the Sears Tower.
After exhausting all efforts to devise a solution, on the eve of surrendering to his hopeless situation, Santa is alerted to the one reindeer in the world who can save his reputation. The once undesirable and undersized Rudolph! The one reindeer who was always left on the sidelines when reindeer football season approached. The ugly duckling reindeer who was once only allowed to cheer from the stands, was now asked to lead the way.
After being shunned for years and years, laughed and called names, Rudolph was now expected to drop everything to save the day. He was treated like crap until he was needed. And do you know what happened when he said yes, he’d lead the way?
All the reindeer loved him. Those hypocritical little snots patted Rudolph on the back and told him he was the best. I’ll bet they even made him honorary quarterback in the RFL (Reindeer Football League).
What a wonderful thing to teach our children. You have to brown-nose and suck up to your boss to make friends and fit in. Forget standing up for yourself and being an individual; set your principles aside and bury any pride you may have. When the boss asks you to do something, you do it, no questions asked.
Let this be a lesson to all you children everywhere. Either conform to the norms of society or sell your sense of self-worth for a few fruitcakes. Oh, and Merry Christmas.