‘Tis the season, so I watched the stop-motion animated TV special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for what must be the fiftieth time.
You’ve probably seen it, but let me break it down for you.
Rudolph is born to Donner, one of Santa’s eight reindeer. He is born with a bright shiny nose which makes him unlike the others. Worried about his son being different, Donner puts a fake cover on his son’s nose to hide the bright shininess. Rudolph is told he needs to conform in order to fit in.
Meanwhile an elf named Hermey makes toys at the North Pole workshop for Santa, but he hates it. He wants to be a dentist instead. Ridiculed, he is told, “You’re an elf, and elves make toys.”
Both Hermey and Rudolph sing about being misfits. Why don’t I fit in?
Later, at the reindeer games, Rudolph meets Clarice, a beautiful young doe who takes a liking to him. All the young reindeer are learning how to fly, but not very successfully. When Clarice tells Rudolph that he is cute, he is so elated that he takes off and flies effortlessly. In his glee, his fake nose comes off, and his bright shiny red nose is revealed to the world. The other reindeer mock him for this. Even Santa shames him and tells Donner that Rudolph will never make the sleigh team. He is excluded from playing any reindeer games.
But Clarice tells Rudolph that she likes his real nose better than the fake one. She sings the song of hope, “There’s Always Tomorrow.” But Rudolph loses her support when her father says no doe of his will ever be seen with a red-nosed reindeer and orders her to go home.
Rudolph runs into Hermey, who talks about being “independent.” They decide they can be independent together. If you don’t mind my red nose, Rudolph says. If you don’t mind me being a dentist, Hermey says.
Then Hermey amends that by saying, “I want to be a dentist, but right now, I’m just an elf.”
They run away together, but quickly encounter the Abominable Snowman. The outside world is a dangerous place.
Fortunately, they meet a new friend, Yukon Cornelius, a prospector, who is always testing the snow for silver and gold, but never seems to find any. He tries to whisk them away from the Abominable on his dog sled. He tells Rudolph to hide his bright shiny nose since that what must be attracting the Abominable or the Bumble as Yukon Cornelius calls him.
They are trapped until Yukon picks the ice away so they can float out into the water. The Bumble can’t follow because he can’t swim. So Yukon and his dogsled, Rudolph and Hermey all float away on an ice sheet, though they have no idea where they are going. They drift into a fog bank and eventually land on the Island of Misfit Toys.
These are toys who have been abandoned by their owners, and they long to be with Santa on his sleigh. They are eager to give joy to children, but they are abandoned on this island.
We’re all misfits, they sing.
Finding a place where they fit in, Rudolph and Hermey want to stay on the island, but instead they are instructed to go back and tell Santa of the plight of the misfit toys. They are welcome to spend the night to rest up for the next day’s journey
Wanting to protect his friend from the danger of his nose attracting the Bumble again, Rudolph sneaks away in the middle of the night. He leaves the island on an ice sheet of his own. Later, after he has wandered and grown up a bit, he realizes that he can’t run away from trouble, so he heads home.
But his family and Clarice aren’t there. They are out looking for Rudolph and have been captured by the Bumble. With the help of Yukon Cornelius and Hermey, who show up at just the right moment, he saves his family from the Abominable, who is rendered harmless because Hermey has removed all its teeth.
Santa declares that even misfits have a place and allows Hermey be a dentist.
When a big storm blows in on Christmas Eve, Santa announces they will have to cancel Christmas. There is no way the sleigh can make it through the night in the bad weather. How will they see?
Just then Rudolph’s nose lights up, and Santa sees this is just what he needs. He puts Rudolph in as the ninth reindeer, so he can light the way.
Donner announces smugly that he knew all along that his son’s nose would turn out to be useful.
Santa’s sleigh takes off and their first stop is the Island of Misfit Toys.
The Misfits are gathered around a meager fire, lamenting on Christmas Eve. They sing that they will never get off the island. They have no dreams left to dream.
But then Rudolph and Santa’s sleigh show up. All the toys gleefully jump into Santa’s bag to be delivered to boys and girls. Even the Misfit Toys find loving homes.
Christmas is saved by Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, who was ostracized for being different and told to conform. That dimmed down, covered up bright nose wasn’t going to do the job. What the world needed was that bright shiny nose. It needed Hermey to answer his calling to be a dentist, so that he could neutralize the Abominable. Despite not fitting in and being ridiculed, these two found their calling and saved Christmas.
If Rudolph and Hermey hadn’t shared their true gifts, something really important wouldn’t have happened. Hermey would still be in Santa’s workshop, unhappily building toys and dreaming of teeth. Rudolph would still be wearing that fake nose while the sleigh team and Santa sat around on Christmas night with a sled full of toys they couldn’t deliver. All the poor Misfit Toys would still be left behind on the island, dreaming of being reunited with boys and girls all over the world.
Rudolph, despite that awful red shiny nose, had exactly what it took to accomplish the mission and go down in history.
That’s what can happen when you embrace your gifts, despite not fitting in with others.
You may have exactly what it takes to save the day.
So don’t cover that bright shiny nose. Light up the world with it and lead the way.