This Nose So Bright
by Rudolph the “Red-Nosed” Reindeer
Hi there, I’m Rudolph the Reindeer. You might not recognize my name without the words “red-nosed” included in it. I suppose that’s fair. Chances are most people are familiar with me from the Christmas song based upon my life. I feel like it’s time I take a moment to shine a light (pun intended) on the real story and clear up any misconceptions the song might have caused.
I guess I should start by saying that I do actually like that classic tune. Somewhere along the way people seemed to get the impression that I don’t care for it. I mean, am I crazy about being defined solely by my red nose? Not totally. After all, who wants to be defined by a single trait, am I right? I’m also a pretty decent hoofhockey player, but you don’t hear people singing any folksy tunes about that. But hey, I’m proud of my nose and my journey so, yeah, I dig it.
The first part of the song, while painfully blunt, does a pretty good job of describing what I like to think of as my “radical facial nonconformity.” Yes, my nose is very shiny, and I suppose if one feels compelled then one could even go so far as to say it glows. The problem of course is that I had to endure many years of others pointing at my nose and saying, “Ha! Ha! Rudolph’s nose is so shiny it literally glows!” Yeah, that left a few scars on my psyche.
My parents saw the potential for this kind of ridicule pretty much from the time I was born. Although they worried about how others’ reactions to my nose might affect me, they completely accepted me as I was and loved me just like any other cloven-hooved animal would love a child.
Being on the cautious side, they got me checked over by a reindoctor to make sure it wasn’t a tumor. Turns out, it’s simply an extremely rare congenital skin condition that can affect reindeer noses, known as Crubrum Nasum. For better or worse, I happen to have been blessed with a particularly pronounced case of it.
To be completely honest, as a youngster I nearly got sick of my parents telling me about how my red nose made me “special,” and how “lucky” I was to be “unique.” After a while I was like, “Okay, I get it! I’m a special flower! Alright already!” But I knew they meant well. Looking back, I’m not sure if they were trying to build me up to face the harsh cruelties of the world or if they were wise enough to know that what makes us different is often where our greatness lies.
While it’s true that reindeer laughed, only a few called me names. The worst were Dasher and Dancer. Those guys were always the biggest in the class and best at all the reindeer games. You know, “The Cool Kids.” They were relentless. On top of the name calling, they once spread a rumor that if you stared directly at my nose you would go blind… it actually made some of my more gullible classmates afraid to look at me.
Even though they never let me join in any reindeer games, I wouldn’t say, “poor Rudolph.” I found other ways to occupy myself. For example, I spent many hours in the library learning about global weather patterns and memorizing Santa’s Christmas Eve delivery route. I taught myself how to control my nose’s brightness, and with time and great concentration, even learned how to blast light directly out in front of me like a beacon. It was like having a super power! Well, except that I didn’t know what good it would do anyone.
The song sort-of glosses over my young adulthood. I’m not ashamed to admit that I struggled to find my niche. I think that’s a common experience when you’re first starting out in the world, no matter your unique qualities or species. I guess my best advice is just to say enjoy the journey – try lots of things. You never know when you might find that perfect fit or when it might find you.
And that’s how it happened for me…
“Then one foggy Christmas Eve” I found myself wandering around downtown Santa’s Village, not sure what I was going to do. I was in quite a funk. I’d just been let go from a job as a stage hand at The Ice Palace Theatre, because the elf who was Artistic Director complained you could see my nose shining off stage during the darkly lit scenes of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. Hey, I didn’t want to cover it up, I’ve got to breathe through this thing!
I pretty much had the streets to myself, because it was so foggy I guess most folks had a hard time seeing, which had never been an issue for me. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Santa himself appeared in front of me looking quite frazzled and said those now-immortal words I will never forget, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
I thought, “Oh my gosh! This is it!” All those years of study and hard work; it was as if I had been preparing for this moment without even realizing it. Of course, I jumped for joy and said to Santa, “You bet!” The elves practically had to hold me down as they hitched me to the front of Santa’s team!
Although the night was the foggiest on record, Santa managed to make all of his deliveries in record time. Ha, and I don’t think Dasher and Dancer were too thrilled about staring at my hind end all night long!
Oh, and that bit about how all the reindeer loved me and they shouted out with glee… yeah, that really happened – on Christmas morning when we returned to the North Pole. Except it wasn’t just the reindeer, it was also the elves, woodland creatures, Mrs. Claus, and The Big Man himself! I’ll be honest – it felt good. But I think what made it feel the best was that my Mom and Dad were there to see it. All those years they’d spent reassuring me that everything would be okay; that my silly old nose wasn’t a curse, but a blessing…
So, there it is. Listen to the people in your life who believe in you and tell you that you matter. Trust those who tell you that you’re good enough and that if you work hard and believe in yourself things will work out in the end. Because, you know what?
FROM THE AUTHOR, MATT VASKO: I hope you enjoyed this retelling of Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer's story as told from his own perspective. While I like the song, I've always thought it portrayed Rudolph as somewhat of a victim. My goal was to give Rudolph the chance to take his story back and reframe it in a more positive way. Hopefully, it appeals to children and adults alike. I welcome your feedback. Merry Christmas!