Recently my daughters Mia and Sophie asked me ‘What should we leave for Santa as a gift?’ Mia answered the question she had just finished asking by saying: ‘Water and pasta and don’t forget a carrot for Rudolph, he must not be left out just because he looks different.’ Wow, I thought, what a statement from a child. Of course, she was right; we should not leave people out at Christmas, no matter how different they are. It made me think of the story of Rudolph, the red nose reindeer.
The Story of Rudolph
A man named Bob May, depressed and broken hearted, stared out of his draftee apartment window into the chilling December night.
His four-year old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn’t understand why her mommy could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked: “Why isn’t Mommy just like everybody else’s Mommy?” Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger. It had been the story of Bob’s life. Life always had to be different for Bob.
Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he’d rather not remember. Bob completed secondary school, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at a newspaper firm during the Great Depression.
Then he was blessed with his little girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-roomed apartment in the slum area. Evelyn died just four days before Christmas in 1938.
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But, if he couldn’t buy a gift, he was determined to make one—a story book. Bob based his story on an animal and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.
Again and again, Bob told the story, going into more detail with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story all about?
The story Bob May told reflected his won autobiography. The main character was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose. Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day.
But the story doesn’t end there.
The general manager of a newspaper firm caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores.
By 1946, Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.
In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of the newspaper firm returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story book he created to comfort his grieving daughter.
But the story doesn’t end there either.
Bob’s brother-in-law Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation of Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of White Christmas.
The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn’t so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.
Thought for the week
As your thought for the week, don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right and truthful and always try to have an open door dor people in genuine need, no matter who they area. Happy Christmas to one and all.