Please meet my cherished friend, Rudolph. We have spent many years together, since I brought him home from a local craft fair. What I didn't know until receiving an email from my friend, Rev. Carrie Hunter, was the heartwarming story that led to the popular Christmas song, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which had its origin in Canada. Paraphrasing the true story:
In 1938, Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Timothy Eaton Department Store in Toronto during the Great Depression, was depressed and heart-broken, with savings depleted, living in a small drafty apartment with his 4-year-old daughter, and trying to comfort her following the death of his wife just before Christmas. Unable to afford a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook. Embellishing it with each telling, it became a fable based on his own early unhappy life as a misfit outcast, about a little reindeer named Rudolph with a big shiny nose.
Somehow the general manager of the T. Eaton store heard of it and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights and give copies to children visiting Santa in their stores; by 1946 over six million had been distributed. That year, when a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Eaton's to print an updated version, the CEO of Eaton's - in an unprecedented gesture of kindness - returned all rights back to Bob. The book became a best-seller, followed by toy and marketing deals. Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created as comfort for his young daughter. And, released in 1949, with lyrics and music written by Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, is the beloved song we know today about Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, initially recorded by singing cowboy, Gene Autry.
Last night I pulled out my sheet music copy of the song, a bit tattered at the edges and purchased in 1950 for one shilling (about ten cents). Now when playing it, hearing the song on the radio, or looking at my Rudolph, I think of how, eighty years ago, one broken man returned to the light out of the darkness, by writing a fable to comfort his daughter.
The Christmas Season can be joyous with its lights and music; yet, life's circumstances can affect us otherwise when experiencing the loss of a special person, or dealing with health or financial issues. Perhaps this story of Rudolph will bring a message of hope and comfort.
Until we meet again through this medium in 2019, I wish you Season's Greetings, good health and safe journeys, and leave you with a short 3-minute reading about real peace that was formerly part of my 2011 December newsletter. Blessèd be to you, and to yours!
Rev. Dorothy Blandford, Ph.D
Apt. 202 - 1655 Martin Drive
Surrey, BC, V4A 6E1, Canada