The Story Behind “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”

You know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen, Coment, and Cupid, and Donder, and Blitzen, but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all….”  Sound familiar? You know the rest of the words right? I’m sure you do. It’s a famous Christmas Carol. However, I’ll bet if I were to ask you, “Where did the idea for Rudolph come from–you wouldn’t know the answer, would you?” What is it that makes the beloved reindeer so famous? What could the people of the world possibly have in common with an animal that is said to be the leader behind Santa’s sleigh one night out of the year?
It all started with a guy named Bob May. His wife was dying of cancer. His 4-year old daughter sat on his lap and cried. “Why isn’t Mommy just like everyone else’s Mommy?” She asked. His daughter’s question reminded him of his own childhood. Bob May was small as a kid. He was too small to compete in sports. He was often picked on and bullied by other boys. He was the kind of person who never did quite fit in very well with things.
This all happened during the time of the great depression in the 1930’s. Since he couldn’t afford to buy a Christmas gift, he decided to make one. In an effort to try to comfort his daughter, he wrote a children’s book. He told a story with animals. Rudolph was the story of his life in fable form. Rudolph was an outcast just like his creator, Bob May. Rudolph was a reindeer with a shiny nose. He finished the story just in time for Christmas Day.
Soon, the general manager of Montgomery Ward heard about the storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. The story went to print and was given to children who were visiting Santa Claus in stores. By 1946, six million copies of Rudolph had been distributed and sold. Soon, toys followed and Bob May was able to make a living and comfort his grieving daughter at the same time.
It was his brother-in law, Johnny Marks, who adapted the story into the well-known song we sing today. Although turned down by many singers, the song was released in 1949 and sung by Gene Autry. It became a phenomenon and sold more records than any other song with the exception of  “White Christmas.” Like May, Rudolph learned that being different can be a blessing.
            Although this song doesn’t have any reference to Christ, we can all learn a lot from Rudolph and his creator. Often, we try to fix the things we don’t like about ourselves-our gray hairs, our wrinkles, etc, as if something about ourselves is a mistake. In Psalm 139, beginning in verse 13, the Bible says, “For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” If people were created in their mother’s womb, how could anybody possibly be a mistake? At the very end of verse 16, it says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
The bottom line: If we were all made the same, there would be no creativity. We wouldn’t have anything to learn from each other because there would be no need for growth. When we try to fix the things we don’t like about ourselves, we’re telling God, our creator, He made a mistake-the very same God who created everything else before us.
 We all have special gifts and talents that have been given to us by God. The question: What will we do with them? Will we be like Rudolph and learn to use them wisely, or will we be like the man in the Bible who buried his one talent and tried to forget all about it? How will you serve the Lord in the New Year?
Dear Lord,
As the New Year approaches, please help me find new ways to use my gifts and talents to serve you.
* Information taken from