Rein in the Reindeer

As Christmas and other seasonal holidays approach, I think it is time we reflected on the messages we send to the sensitive minds of our students in our schools’ Holiday Concerts. Many schools are appropriately avoiding any reference to the Christ in Christmas and even avoiding the word Christmas so everyone can feel included. Wisely, they choose songs about snowmen and Santa Claus. Santa Claus is a bit on the edge of promulgating Christian as historically he has his roots in St. Nicholas. However, no one studies history that far back any more. The red and white incarnation of St. Nick we know as Santa Claus was created by a certain soft drink company as part of its advertising campaign. Since soft drinks and advertising are not religious, references to Santa Claus are acceptable so long as the product is not mentioned. So we won’t mention Coke.
We are concerned with some songs, particularly Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Normally, Rudolph might be acceptable as it originated in a poem written for department store advertising and is therefore not connected with religion at all, but I am afraid it is not connected with morality, either.
If you recall, the introduction starts with the names of the other reindeers. Some are innocent enough, even rather sweet, such as Dancer and Dasher, but Vixen is not an appropriate name for a character in a song for children; it’s true that the reindeer are badly behaved bullies but that’s no reason to use such language. Next thing you know, Santa will be referring to her as Tartette or Girlie. I am not even going to discuss the implications of a name like Prancer.
The song goes from bad to worse when it points out Rudolph’s affliction! Would we sing a song about Travis, the pimple-faced boy? Or Fred, the pocket-protected geek? Or Matilda, the enormous fattie? It’s not nice to sing about other people’s visible defects. They can’t help the humongous mole on their cheeks or their single eyebrow or large ears or knobbly knees so it is dreadfully unfair to point them out.
Not only does the song point out Rudolph’s affliction (and in passing, what an unfortunate name, with all of its associations), but it then goes on to tell us that the other reindeer made fun of him for it. They didn’t just make fun of him, they discriminated against him; they wouldn’t let him play with them! I imagine that particular bit of nastiness was instigated by the aptly named Vixen. This is the kind of thing that should have been quickly handled by Santa or personnel or the Human Rights Commission!
But does Santa intervene and make these four-footed barbarians see the error of their ways? No! He ignores it. The only notice he takes of Rudolph is when the weather gets bad and he needs a fog light. This is appalling. Surely Santa would have planned for such eventualities, or his Health and Safety Committee would have drawn it to his attention. He could hardly have done so many years of flying without encountering adverse weather conditions. If he had flown without having lights, it speaks to his carelessness not only for the mental health of his reindeers, but their safety and the safety of aircraft the world over.
It is clear that Rudolph has no training for the role of fog light; it is a big surprise to everyone when he is asked to lead. Another error in safety! Now this is where the children learn a truly disgusting lesson. The moment Rudolph is promoted, the other reindeers become sycophantic fawners, complimenting the very reindeer they had derided and inviting him to their games and parties. What kind of a lesson is that?
This song teaches our children that it is perfectly fine to pick on outsiders and exclude them. It is also acceptable to fawn on bosses, heroes and celebrities no matter how much we disliked them before their elevation. In other words, bullying and hypocrisy is part of the Christmas spirit. Ho Ho Ho.
Mrs. M. Whitehouse
© Sheila Diane Scaiff and Teachers Outside the Box, 2008. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sheila Diane Scaiff and Teachers Outside the Box with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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One response to “Rein in the Reindeer

  1. When our son was a pre-schooler, he expressed an interest in watching a televised presentation of the Nutcracker. Wanting to encourage his cultural interests, we agreed, although it went a little late. When it was all over, we asked him what he thought of it.
    “I liked it,” he said, “but where was Rudolph?”
    A promo for the show had mentioned the principal dancer — Rudolph Nureyev — and our son watched patiently, waiting for the appearance of the famous reindeer.
    — Bruce

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