So I was reading to my kids the other day.
And I get up to the bit where Santa and the reindeer land on the roof. So far, everything is fine.
Until Santa starts naming all the reindeer.
Let’s see… There’s Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen.
(Just between us grown-ups, now that I read this as an adult, these names are kind of weird. To my ears the first four sound like strippers and the last four sound like condoms. I mean, who WROTE this? What was THAT all about?)
So anyway, he names them all. (After strippers and condoms. Seriously?)
And there’s this glaring omission. I’m sure you know then name of the one who isn’t there.
3 year old interrupts, distraught.
She says “MUM! Wait!! Where’s … where’s… ” and it is obvious that she can’t remember the name for whatever she’s looking for. Her 6 year old sister fills in the blanks.
“Hey, yeah, mum, where is Rudolph?”
Eventually, in a surprise burst of inspiration, I say “see that night sky? Clear as day. No fog here, so he doesn’t NEED Rudolph. Remember? He only gets Rudolph when it’s too foggy to see. This is NOT a foggy night, so Santa can do it all without Rudolph. Rudolph is probably at home eating a whole lot of reindeer food right now.” I sit there, feeling about as smug as pie.
Silence, while this sinks in.
Nothing happens. So I open my mouth to keep reading, and I’m cut off again.
I ask, “What is it this time?”
“Where are the elephants?” She says.
We all stare at each other. She’s actually looking kind of angry. She says it again.
“Where are the elephants??”
Now she’s exasperated.
“Where is the lightning?” She demands.
We all look back at the book.
I get the weirdest feeling that I’m letting her down.
I thought Christmas would be exciting enough for a kid, what with the toys and the food and the people and mystery and tinsel and the civic decorations and the festivities and the hype and the whole mythos and cultural experience – if anything you’d think it would be overwhelming, not insufficient.
But after a moment, I start thinking, you know what, she’s right. There’s plenty of things in here about this magical (and oddly judgemental) guy with apparently endless funds who delivers presents on a fairly dubious honours system, there are some magical reindeer, whose main skill is flight, and then toys happen. But it’s somewhat lacking in the *excitement* department.
Oh wait I forgot, there’s also a tree. A heavily decorated fir tree. Sometimes, even, with flashing lights!
That’s exciting, right?
Nobody wants to make, let alone watch, an action movie about a slightly magical postman who gets all the mail delivered on time. (Well, not unless they also include the four strippers and four condom brands. And even then it’s still only a maybe.)
To be fair to the illustrators, the poem doesn’t actually make any mention of elephants or lightning. But then, it doesn’t specifically say that they WEREN’T there, either. Am I right?
So here it is. Especially for my action-packed little three year old, I am pleased to present an arguably more thrilling alternative to the standard Christmas scene.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!