I got home from work last year and saw my little girl watching the holiday classic Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
TWO days BEFORE Thanksgiving!
I'm not saying that particular Christmas special is bad (which it is), I'm just saying the only thing worse was listening to Miley Cyrus sing Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit. And the only thing worse than that is watching her dance to it. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself on YouTube. Anyway...
I sat down and watched it with her. Why? Because that's what Dads who love their little girls do. As my mind wandered and my eyes glazed over, once again I was reminded of that time, not so long ago, I met a brave little pig.
I drove down to a farm on Highway 28, because I had heard farmers tended to have attractive daughters with liberal ideas about hospitality, but, instead of a daughter, this farmer had a pig. The pig was missing three of its legs, one of its two eyes, both ears, its tail, and part of its snout.
"What happened to your pig, Farmer Brown?" I asked the old coot.
"Well," the farmer says to me, "one night the pig wakes me and the missus up, 'cause there was a gas leak (and I'm not talkin' 'bout my missus). We barely got out of the house when all that gas exploded, creatin' a fire. 'Oh my god! The baby!' I yelled, and the pig runs into the burning house and saves the baby. From all the excitement, my missus falls to the ground. Heart attack! I don't know what to do, but the pig does. He jumps up high and lands square on her chest. Her poor ol' ticker starts right back up again, good as new. That little pig saved all our lives that night."
"And his injuries were caused by the fire?" I asked.
"Nah, that weren't it," Farmer Brown explained. "You see, with a pig that brave... you don't want to eat him all at once."
I think about that pig every time I hear the Christmas song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Oh, sure, the song starts out happily enough. There's Rudolph. He has a shiny nose. Big deal, right?
Well, it is a big deal. Apparently, it's a big deal to all the other reindeers. They laugh at poor Rudolph. They call him names. They shun him. And all Rudolph wants most in the world is to be accepted by his peers and to play their stupid little reindeer games with them.
That, and maybe some green chile from Hatch.
And what about the adult reindeers? The ones who should know better? Did they step in and stop the bullying? No, they didn't. They weren't part of the solution, they were part of the problem.
Even Santa Claus, who, as the fat cat in charge of the whole North Pole operation, decided to ignore the problem. If he didn't acknowledge the bullying by the reindeers--both old and young--then it didn't exist.
Finally, a greater power interceded. No, I'm not talking about Governor Susana Martinez. I'm talking about a blizzard so huge Kim Kardashian would barely be able to hide it behind her, ahem, talent. Christmas, it seemed, would have to be cancelled.
Santa, in probably the first kind words he ever spoke to Rudolph, finally acknowledges his "special" reindeer, and asks him to guide his sleigh that night for what is essentially a suicide mission.
Like a Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II, Rudolph agrees, and Christmas is saved. Santa collects his bonus, and Rudolph... well, then and only then do all the reindeers love him. You know what I think about that?
Too little. Too late.
In the first place, Santa lives in the north Pole. He's been doing this Christmas thing for centuries. You would think he'd have a plan B for what happens when the snow starts to fall, which is EVERY DAY. Secondly, well, there is no secondly. I just wanted to use the phrase "in the first place" to make my point seem more important than it was.
If I were Rudolph, and Santa Claus came groveling up to me after years of neglect and abuse--POW!--right in the kisser. I would have treated him like the punching-bag he's shaped like. You can take your sleigh and your toys and all your non-glowing-nosed reindeers, fat man, and stick them where the sun don't shine!
The song is bad enough. Watching the TV claymation version of it is even worse. An elf is brow-beaten just because his true calling is dentistry? Those elves would rather walk around with rotten teeth and bad breath? And Santa apparently values production on the toy assembly-line over the health and welfare of his loyal workers? Where are the Teamsters when you need them? Plus, I was always bothered by the Misfit Toys. An island filled with irregular, but otherwise perfectly fine toys. Santa couldn't have handed them out to my in-laws? He preferred for them to go to waste?
No, I've never cared for the song Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and I care for the TV special even less. Especially two days before Thanksgiving.
My little girl loves it, though.
as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine