Long before discussions of diversity and inclusion were central to the national debate, there was Rudolf. Reviled and mocked by his fellow reindeer—because he was different; because it glowed! —, he was elevated by Santa who saw his inner qualities and the special role he could play.
How old is this beleaguered fictional mammal? According to the Smithsonian: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939 when Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to create a Christmas story the store could give away to shoppers as a promotional gimmick…In the first year of publication, 2.4 million copies of Rudolph’s story were distributed by Montgomery Ward. May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into song. Marks’ musical version of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949.”.
In the ensuing decades, how many of us have felt ourselves excluded from reindeer games, only to triumph later in life? This exquisite and fiercely eccentric deer rises far above the common herd with its shower of stones, and if his nose isn’t red, it certainly glows, along with the rest of him, composed as it is of natural diamonds, black spinels and pearls.