From inspiration for a child to a holiday legend

16 12 2010

“Why isn’t my mommy just like everyone else’s mommy?” Barbara asked her father.  You see Barbara’s mother was suffering from cancer and had been bedridden for two years, Barbara was only 4 years old.

Barbara’s father is Robert May.  He was a copywriter for Montgomery Ward in Chicago.  They lived in a shabby two bedroom apartment.  Robert had put all his earnings and savings into the care of his sick wife and was deeply in debt, depressed and sad.  When Barbara asked him that question he made up a story to inspire her to be optimistic.

The story was of a reindeer that was different from any of the other reindeer.   Rudolph had a shiny red nose.  Everyone made fun of poor Rudolph and made fun of him, even his family was embarrassed by his presence.  Rudolph pitied himself and was quiet lonely.

One Christmas as Santa prepared the sleigh, he gathered the most handsome and strongest reindeer’s in his stables including Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen.  Thick mist and fog engulfed the whole world.  Santa wondered how is he going to find the chimneys to distribute the children’s gifts.  His eyes fell upon the bright glowing red nose of Rudolph and a solution to the problem was found.  Rudolph guided Santa’s sleigh to every chimney that night even though there was rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog and mist(kind of like a early version of a postal worker).  This brave act made Rudolph a hero and beloved by all the other reindeer.  The very red nose that caused him embarrassment became  his most prized possession.

This story pleased Barbara.  Robert decided to write this story as a poem and give it to Barbara as a Christmas gift.  The poem  was called Night Before Christmas.  While he was still working on the poem, his wife, Barbara’s mother, passed away.  He kept a strong front up for Barabara and recited the poem at an office Christmas party in 1938 to a round of applause.  The booklet he wrote with rough drawings that he made for Barbara became very popular.  In 1947, 6 million copies had already been around.  Rudolph was in great demand, and became a Christmas legend.

From the depth of his heart and the love for his daughter came this legend.  A  father comforting his child, and perhaps himself in very tough times creates a masterpiece that became a legend and made Robert a very rich man, monetarily.  Somehow I think he was already rich, in his heart and soul and with his daughter.  Merry Christmas.




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