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The Truth About Rudolph

by Maggie Van Ostrand

Maggie Van Ostrand
When texasescapes.com assigned this interview, it could not have known how difficult it would be to get to the bottom of the Rudolph myth. Neither could it have known how complicated would be the logistics involved in getting reindeer witnesses together to talk to us. Luckily, our quest for success resulted in new and sometimes shocking information.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers every summer. Reindeer are the only members of the deer family (Cervidae) in which this phenomenon occurs. "What, you think horny females are limited to humans?" sneered Vixen. She was a bit edgy, having recently given up smoking.

"You must tell your readers that male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December and we retain our antlers till after we give birth in the spring," added Prancer. Therefore, according to every historical depiction of Santa's reindeer, all of them are female. "Humans should have guessed as much," she grinned, "since we're able to find our way to your house without directions."

Reindeer are from the Arctic region, and the largest ones are up to four feet high at the shoulders and weigh up to 250 pounds. "That's our ideal weight, you know," whispers a rather shy Cupid, "so please don't write that we're fat. It's tough enough to get a date, even for me."

It is believed that there are no longer any wild reindeer; the entire species seems to have been domesticated. "Like human females, it's our duty to domesticate males," notes a feisty Blitzen, "so be sure to put that in your column."

Each reindeer can pull up to twice its own weight, making it an ideal animal for pulling a sleigh loaded down with Christmas gifts. "Yes," Dasher adds with no small amount of pride, "we can pull a sleigh carrying up to 13,500 pounds of toys for an unlimited amount of time. It's sort of like being a thousand times pregnant every Christmas, don't you agree?" she asks Donner.

"The only other creature able to match this weight load of presents would be a wife outside of Wal-Mart in a Hummer," sniffs Donner.

Speaking of Donner, she's also quick to correct that her name was originally spelled Dunder, defined as Thunder in the original Dutch, while her best friend Blitzen's name was originally spelled Blixem and meant Lightning.

All eight members of Santa's original reindeer team, Donner, Blitzen, Cupid, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, and Vixen, were, until Rudolph, the only known flying reindeer in existence.

Reports Dasher, team historian, so named because she takes notes so fast, "We were given the power of flight by eating magic corn, a gift to Kris Kringle from the Wizard of Oz, just prior to the arrival of Judy Garland."

"Through this magic corn," interjects Vixen proudly, "our strength is increased to three times normal, our stamina increased to infinity, and our hooves can run on air as if it were solid ground."

While it is true that, like all females, Santa's reindeer are even-tempered, patient, and kind, it is also true that they admit to having felt a twinge of jealousy when Santa discovered Rudolph shopping in Mongtomery Ward department store back in 1949. Shopping is proof that Rudolph is female. That, and the fact she admits to being only 40.

During a shopoholic spree on the Day-After-Thanksgiving sale, a zealous buffalo beat Rudolph to the sweater table and elbowed the hapless reindeer in the mouth, resulting in a permanent speech impediment.

"All eight of us had gotten along very well since we were created in 1823 when 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' came out," interrupted Prancer, "and we did not take kindly to a newcomer, particularly one who got so upset at no longer being able to pronounce the letter 'R' that she imbibed too many hot toddies at a Christmas party in Lapland, and had to be driven home by a designated deer."

"That's true," confirmed Comet, "and no amount of Maybelline face powder could hide the telltale redness of Rudolph's nose." "Yes," recalled Cupid, giggling behind her hoof, "and that's when it became apparent she would bear the mark of an alcoholic reindeer all her life."

When Santa got wind of this scandal from Elvis the Elf, he decided to give Rudolph a second chance in life by utilizing her bright red nose to compensate for the flickering headlights on his sleigh.

Santa nodded toward his vehicle and proclaimed, "Rudolph with your nose so bright, will you be able to light my sleigh Christmas night? You Rudolph, are going on the wagon."

And so it was that Rudolph entered rehab and came out a better, more virtuous reindeer. "I twy and twy to help wittle childwen at Chwistmastime and am gwateful to Santa for a chance at wivving a better wife," exclaims Rudolph modestly.

All the other reindeer came to love Rudolph, who is now invited to join in any reindeer games and, to this day, remains Santa's favorite. At the end of this interview, Rudolph, with the other reindeer singing back-up, shouted out with glee: "Mewwy Chwistmas to all, and to all a dood night."

Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"

December 8, 2004 column
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