Please don’t call Rudolph red-nosed as if that defines him. He happens to be a very nice reindeer who suffers from a distinctively colourful nasal appendage. It’s probably a genetic problem. How would you like to be known as Big Ears for instance – oh wait, Noddy’s friend was given that awful name. Maybe I’m sensitive about noses for some reason. But we shouldn’t label people by their appearance or chronic diseases (don’t say he is a schizophrenic, say he suffers from schizophrenia).
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is an ugly song, depicting some rather nasty reindeer. They were bullies. Let’s consider what the song has to say.
“Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose
and if you ever saw it
you would even say it glows.”
Well there we have it, right in the first line we have labeled poor Rudolph. He could have been a very intelligent reindeer, maybe a kind animal, but now is he known as Red-Nosed! Let’s continue.
“All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names”
Well that’s not nice is it? Just because he looked a little different for the others they laughed at him and called him names! Sounds like bullying to me. How would Rudolph have felt hearing this constant abuse and mocking. It gets worse
“They never let poor Rudolph
play in any reindeer games.”
Now wait just a minute! Rudolph, being a little different was excluded from the group. Not only did they make fun of him, they shunned him! I don’t like these reindeer very much. Where on earth was Santa Claus (Father Christmas) when this was gong on? Was he just too busy to pay attention. What about some of those elves or Mrs Claus, surely someone would have noticed and tried to teach those reindeer about love and inclusion. Did they all just turn a blind eye like Admiral Lord Nelson? Now the plot thickens.
Then one foggy Christmas eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
Oh, sure, now Santa gets involved because the previously funny facial abnormality has a use! Yes, Santa is going to USE poor Rudolph. And Rudolph, probably so relieved to be at last acknowledged and accepted by the kind? Jolly?” old elf, jumps at the chance to be included. And the rest is history,
Then all the reindeer loved him
Then they all loved him! Oh yes, the weird one was useful to them now, so they loved him. Did they really, or did they just love his special ability to glow in the dark? Did you know reindeer could be so fickle? Aren’t you glad people aren’t like that? Can you imagine a group of people excluding someone because of a disability or difference in appearance, or perhaps sexual orientation, or belief? Then having the audacity to befriend the individual because they perceived him to be ‘useful’. The song goes on…
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you’ll go down in history!
There you have it, Rudolph is in the history books because of his glowing appendage and subsequent usefulness. We all love him because Santa was able to bring us our gifts that night, and we remember Rudolph not for any real quality, but because he was able to fill a functional need.
I’m so glad we teach that song to little children so they can learn what’s important in life and relationships.
This was the basis of a sermon I gave several years ago at this festive season. We really should pay attention to the ugly messages imbedded in so many seemingly harmless cultural offerings. Watch TV advertisements to learn greed, avarice, stupidity, gender generalization…
I don’t wish you a merry Christmas, I wish you many blessings and peaceful, quiet times this Advent season.
Now, let me think about Frosty…