Most reindeer have a rather dull nose, dark brown or boring gray, but Rudolph had a very shiny one. Therefore, the rest of the pack laughed about it, called him names, kicked snow in his face. Like quite a few humans, they didn’t much care for creatures unlike themselves.
They were good with Santa, however. He was mostly jolly, not a reindeer, and most importantly, the big boss. Without Santa, the reindeer wouldn’t have a respectable job, and no comfortable place to hang out.
One Christmas eve the fog rolled in and Santa found himself in a fix. All the bright gifts were loaded, the bows tied tight, and the lumps of coal stashed in the undercarriage. But Santa had no fog lights, and with all the airplanes going every which way around the globe, to venture out without some basic safety precaution was to invite an accident.
Naturally, Santa didn’t want an accident. The gifts would be delayed, or even destroyed. Hey, Santa himself could be destroyed. And that wouldn’t do. Plus, Santa was supposed to be a role model around the world; he couldn’t be so reckless.
Santa walked over to the stables. “Rudolph,” he said. “How you doing?”
“Oh, the usual, Mr. Claus.” replied Rudolph. “Just about to settle in for a long winter’s nap with my picture books while you and the others fly out to drop off the bribes.”
“Oh, they’re going to find who’s been naughty or nice all right.” said Santa.
“You old sadist.”
“Good one, Rudolph. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to ask you to lead the pack.”
“I’m no leader, Mr. Claus.” said Rudolph. “My specialty is cleaning up the barnyard.”
Santa shook his head. “Now, now. None of that please. We’re all a family. And I think you’d be great on point.”
“Expecting a firefight, Mr. Claus?”
“It’s Christmas Eve, Rudolph. Who would dare?” replied Santa, but he had a twinkle in his eye and a dimple under it, just above his beard, that suggested he knew more than his jovial demeanor let on.
“Well, okay then.” said Rudolph after a short pause. “I’ll do it. But the other reindeer aren’t going to like it.”
“Maybe not, but they’ll be fine, Rudolph.”
“They don’t like me, Mr. Claus.”
“I know, but don’t worry,” said Santa.
Rudolph made a noise somewhere between a sigh and too much gas.
Santa nodded. It was settled then. He hollered for the stable master to hitch them up.
When the others saw Rudolph coming from the stables, they started to stomp the ground and snort.
“Hey what’s this?” said Donner.
“No way,” said Blitzen. “He can’t go with us.”
Santa walked over, put on his hard-ass, no-nonsense, biker-in-a-bar-fight Santa face that few had ever seen. His dimples disappeared.
“He’s going,” he said, teeth tight. “In fact, he’s going on point. Get used to it.”
“I’ll file a complaint,” said Comet.
“You just did,” said Santa. “And I just flushed it.”
“Oh, he’s kind of cute,” said Vixen. She fluttered her eyelids.
“Damn right,” said Santa. “And essential, too. Now get into those harnesses, boys and girls. It’s time to get this patrol in gear.”
The reindeer grumbled, but moved into position.
“Locked and loaded,” said the stable master.
“Okay,” said Santa. He climbed on board, grabbed the reins. “Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer. And the rest of you sluggards. Move out! Let’s go get us some kids!”
And just in time, too. From across the barnyard, the cuckoo clock in the workshop announced the launch hour. Santa and the pack lifted from the ground, at first with a groan from the sleigh as the framework slightly shifted, and then with a smooth aerodynamic whoosh as they gained altitude. They soon disappeared into the mist. Santa’s maniacal laughter faded.
This piece first appeared on my Dynamic Creed Substack.
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