The most famous reindeer of all

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

By Nathan Rice

I’m pretty sure everyone knows the most famous reindeer of all. It would be hard to not know. Images of him and his red nose are scattered everywhere around the holidays. Rudolph first appeared in 1939, but we know him best from the 1949 song by Gene Autry and the 1964 stop-motion animation film that so many people have come to know and love. The film is so popular that it’s more than 50 years old but still shown on a major television network every Christmas season.

The story is a classic, and it is one that is easy to love. A reindeer that is shunned because of his red nose quickly becomes a hero when fog threatens Santa’s ability to deliver presents. He goes from being spurned by the crowd to being loved by all his peers.

Email newsletter signup

It’s a great story, but my mind makes me wonder what would have happened if there were no fog on that historic night. Would poor Rudolph never have been allowed to play in the reindeer games? Would his red nose have kept him from ever being accepted by his hooved companions?

I can’t answer those questions, because the story takes a different route, but I know people sometimes never accept those who are different from them. Much like the reindeer in this popular story, many people exclude those whose appearance is different from their own or have a trait that makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd.

You would think that after watching Rudolph for more than 50 years, we would all realize that excluding people because they are different is wrong. Sadly, that is not the case. We often push those with special needs to the side, demean those we see as less talented or intelligent than ourselves, and gather with people who look like us to shout at people with a different skin tone from our own. It’s tragic, because our country is one that is rich in diversity. This diversity is a beautiful thing that should make us stronger instead of pushing us apart.

Other times, we are only willing to accept those who are different from us once they prove their value. Much like the reindeer who only loved Rudolph once he led Santa’s sleigh through the fog, we only accept those who are different from us or unique in some way once they do something we consider worthy of praise. What this fails to realize is that everyone has an intrinsic value that isn’t based on abilities or achievements. No one should be forced to prove their worth to a group before they are accepted, loved and respected.

Perhaps this Christmas could be the year we start realizing that there is beauty in diversity. Maybe this holiday season could be the start of our country realizing that the color of our noses doesn’t matter. Wouldn’t it be amazing if this new year was the year we started loving and appreciating those with special needs just as much as those who we deem the most talented? How great would it be if 2019 was the year that everyone stopped excluding people because they were different? Our future would change if we did, and I bet we’d all go down in history.


Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at