The Blue Reindeer by Dublin Schoolchildren
A collaborative Short Story by children in a Dublin School, Second Class, Castleknock Educate Together National School as part of a Myths, Legends and Fairytale Teacher/Artist Project. These students represent many cultural backgrounds. They include – Lauren, Roisin, Saoirse, Ollive, Emma, Suzie, Dara, Tahreem, Liam, Will, Francesco, Macieji, Maaz, Anne Marie, Gavin, Maya C, Luke, Loachim, Kristofer, Erin, Alex, Noah, Conor.
It was the night before Christmas. Santa went out to the reindeer enclosure near his North Pole dwelling. His eight reindeers were all there, excitement was in the air. But wait! As he drew near the enclosure Santa couldn’t believe his eyes. One of the reindeer, his very best reindeer, the one he was relying on to bring his sleigh all over the world, was a different colour than the others. Rudolph, his very best reindeer was now blue. An electric shade of blue. Santa almost froze with shock. He could feel the blood draining from his body. He threw his hands in the air and exclaimed: “Oh my…what will I do now? How can this be? Please Rudolph, please tell me what happened”. The big jolly man suddenly looked as if he had shrunk.
Santa begged and pleaded but Rudolph continued to hang his head, not knowing what to say. Rudolph had always been much shyer than all the other reindeers but when his nose glowed, the skies lit up all over the mountains and valleys and Santa could see clearly his way to all the children in all the world. Seeing how Santa was so affected by what was happening, the other reindeers quickly gathered round him and they blew out their breaths in clouds of warm air. They were trying to heat Santa. Normally, Santa was such a jolly fellow and always felt warm but tonight, on Christmas Eve, he was feeling an icy chill. Rudolph continued to look at Santa with big sorrowful eyes. Rudolph’s eyes were blue as his skin which now gave off an eerie glow in the near darkness. He seemed about to say something “Please…Santa…I…” but that’s as far as he could go. It was if he couldn’t get the words out.
“Have you eaten blueberries?” Santa asked. Santa frowned, struggling to find the answer to this terrible event that was happening. And so near to take-off too! Santa’s eyebrows which were thick and soft as cotton wool shot upwards and disappeared into his pixie shaped hat.
“No, it wasn’t blueberries”. A small voice from the back of the pack spoke out. It was Vixen, a beautiful fawn coloured reindeer and one of Rudolph’s closest friends.
“Tell me all you know”, Santa said and beckoned Vixen to him. But Vixen then looked frightened and even though she didn’t want to disobey Santa she stayed where she was, pretending she hadn’t heard Santa summon her.
“Have you painted yourself blue Rudolph?” Santa persisted. “Is this some kind of joke ? Prancer, did you do this? You are so vain that you were probably testing out a new colour for your coat and poor Rudolph was gullible enough to allow it. Is that it?”
All the reindeers shook their heads but Prancer shook his the most. “Santa, how could you think I would do such a thing? No way would I ever do anything to harm my friends in this way”.
“No…Okay then, perhaps it is a trick of the moonlight that has sprayed you this sky colour. Here Rudolph, move over there under the lantern near the oak tree. Let me get a closer look at you.”
Rudolph lifted up his head and looked at Santa. He was just about to speak when there was a commotion, a loud clippity cloppity noise from one of the other reindeers, Dancer.
“Oops, I’m just practising my new routine”, the very musical little reindeer said. He was called Dancer because he was light on his feet and he always wore a silver bell around his throat so that when he moved it tinkled.
“Silly reindeer”, Santa replied, shaking his head and wagging his finger at Dancer. “How can you dance at a time like this? My best reindeer is now blue, even his nose is no longer red. How on earth will he lead my sleigh tonight? Oh dear, I just don’t know what to do”.
With that, Dasher, one of the bigger reindeers who had a white crest on his back, pushed his way through the other reindeers.
“Ouch, mind your step”, said Cupid, “you big oaf. You nearly crushed my hoof. Then where would we be? I’d have to stay at home tonight and all the love I have to breathe into everyone’s chimney wouldn’t happen. Folk would be very cross all over Christmas”.
“Cupid’s right”, said Santa, “take your time Dasher, there’s no rush anywhere until we can discover what’s happened to poor Rudolph.”
“I was just going to say that I can lead your sleigh tonight. I’m twice as fast as Rudolph and all the other reindeers respect me just as much as they do him. Isn’t it time for a change?”
As soon as Dasher had spoken the other reindeers trembled. They did not trust him although they knew in their hearts that Dasher was certainly faster than any of them. Deep down they were more than a little afraid of him.
“Why are you so eager to take Rudolph’s place all of a sudden?” Santa said and a look of puzzlement came over his chubby face. “Mmmm… is there something you are not telling me Dasher?”
“I saw Dasher with the witch of the woods last week,” blurted Blixen, a normally quiet reindeer who was more often seen than heard. Blixen turned bright red when everyone turned to look at him. Then, just as quickly as the colour rushed into his cheeks, it ebbed away again.
“There’s no need to pay any attention to this upstart”, Dasher said, growing angry. ‘He’s just out to make trouble. You know he’s been always jealous of me and how quickly I can take a dangerous turn or a sharp bend.”
But Santa wasn’t quite happy with Dasher’s response. Again he looked to Rudolph who seemed even bluer than when he first saw him. Santa thought for a minute and then he asked Comet to step forward. Comet was starry-eyed and always looking towards the heavens. When he wasn’t grazing in the meadows or pulling Santa’s sleigh, Comet loved to study the stars and the planets. He knew every constellation and loved to trace their shape when he lay down at night in his bed made of straw. He knew he had been born under a lucky star and that was true because it was a very lucky day for him when Santa asked him to pull his sleigh with the other reindeers.
“Comet, you’ve never ever lied to me, so you haven’t?” Santa asked him.
“No, I’ve never lied to you Santa”, Comet agreed, sticking out his chest to make himself look proud. “And I never ever would” he added. “I just want everyone to be happy”.
“Then tell me all you know about this dastardly deed. How did my best reindeer come to be so blue. Electric blue. Has someone put a spell on him?”
Comet looked to the other reindeers. He pleaded to them with his eyes but they all remained silent. Rudolph, Vixen, Blitzen, Dancer, Prancer, Comet, Dasher, Donner.
“Very Well, it looks like we’re not going anywhere tonight then,” Santa said at last. “There’s no question that anyone else could lead my sleigh only Rudolph. He’s been doing it for centuries and it just wouldn’t be the same”.
There was a sharp intake of breath. Everyone was horrified at the thought of not delivering the parcels that the elves had made all year long. All the work they put into making dreams come true would now be wasted. The elves had gone to every corner of the land to find the parts they needed to make sure all the toys the children asked for got made. “Not flying tonight. Impossible!” all the reindeers said together. But Santa was a very wise man and he knew what he was doing. Rudolph spoke up at last, at first in a whisper but then his voice grew stronger.
“It was Dasher…he made me eat carrots that the witch of the woods had prepared. There was an invisible potion on them and then when I ate them I turned blue. Dasher didn’t tell me the carrots were going to make me blue. He just said they were tasty and that more than likely they’d make my nose glow even brighter if I ate them.” After he had spoken, Rudolph trembled.
“Is this true Dasher?” Santa asked in a very cross voice. What have you got against Rudolph? He’s always been kind and fair to you and all the other reindeers. You are one big happy family or so I thought. Now, thanks to you, there will be no trip around the world tonight”.
“I’m so sorry Santa. I really am. I didn’t mean for this to get out of hand. I just wanted to lead your sleigh. Just once. I’m sure I can persuade the witch to give me the antidote for the magic carrots. Just once, can you please let me guide your sleigh?”
“Dasher. I know you are the fastest of the reindeers but you being near the back means that you know how to take the bends that myself and Rudolph cannot see. Don’t you know that your part in guiding the sleigh is every bit as important as Rudolph’s. But now, after what you’ve done…I don’t know if I can ever trust you again.” Santa was near to tears. Dasher felt even more sad and his heart felt it was breaking. If only he hadn’t gone to the woods and met that wicked witch. If only he hadn’t told her his secret ambition, to guide the sleigh. The witch, called Astoria, was only too willing to give him the magic carrots. Dasher could still see her evil face and her black teeth when she smiled. But he’d been so overcome with his own desire to lead the reindeers that he’d taken the carrots and now, here they were in this terrible fix.
“And what may I ask did Astoria demand of you to earn the magic carrots?” Santa asked. “If I know that witch, she will have wanted something in return”.
Dasher hung his head in shame and his shoulders slumped. He looked old, nothing like the strong reindeer he was. “She just wanted to ruin Christmas. The thought of children all over the world not receiving their presents for being good was reward enough for her.”
Santa took on the expression he did when he was deep in thought. He sat on the stump of a tree and folded his arms. The reindeers knew not to interrupt his thoughts. It was how he looked when he was going through the Book of Good Deeds to see which children had behave all year and which hadn’t. When a half an hour had passed, the reindeers grew restless. They knew that take-off time was fast approaching and they weren’t sure what was happening. Would they be flying out over the land as usual or would all the children all over the world be disappointed?
At last, Santa rose, approached Rudolph and said, “Rudolph, I’m going to wipe your nose with the cloth I use to clean the windows of the houses so I can look in and make sure the children are all asleep. Santa’s cloth could cut through ice and snow on any glass and if Jack Frost had made icicles the cloth would melt them.
“But Santa, that’s your very special cloth. What will you do if it becomes blue too? And worse, what will you do if the paint won’t come off and you’ll have wasted your special cloth for nothing.”
“Let me worry about that. I know someone who will go to the clear brook that’s just beyond the hill yonder to rinse the cloth. The water in that brook has magical powers too. Not for reindeers or humans but for cloths. ” Santa looked at Dasher and it was clear that Dasher would be the reindeer chosen to fly to the brook to clean the cloth.
Santa walked over to Rudolph and unfolded a scrap of what looked like a clump of silk. It was white as snow and it smelled of roses. It was so white that it dazzled all the reindeers and they had to look away. Rudolph closed his eyes and wished and wished with all his heart that the special cloth would wipe away the blue on his nose.
Santa very gently wiped at Rudolph’s nose and little by little, the glorious red bulb that shone so brightly began to emerge. The other reindeers cheered loud they were so happy. Rudolph’s nose was like a beacon in the night. It burned brighter than any fire any of them had ever seen.
“Please forgive me Santa and Rudolph” Dasher said and there was genuine regret in his voice. “I’ve been foolish, thinking I wasn’t important when Santa has made me realise that each and every one of us is needed in our way to pull the sleigh. Can you ever forgive me?”
Santa smiled and it was the biggest, widest smile the reindeers had ever seen. It was so big and so wide that it made them all feel happy inside and even though they were still annoyed with Dasher for what he had done, they just couldn’t stay mad for too long.
“Here, take this cloth to the brook and make sure every bit of blue dye is rinsed out. Then Dasher, come back here and we’ll fly like the wind with all the presents. There’s still plenty of time because as you know, I have the power to stop time. How else do you think I can get around the world in one night?” Santa laughed and his belly shook like jelly.
Dasher took the cloth and was gone in a flash. He vowed he would never do anything again to hurt Santa or the other reindeers. Now that Rudolph’s nose was glowing again, it was as if the world was lit up once more. Dasher vowed he would be extra kind to Rudolph from then on.
“My dear Rudolph, your colour has nothing got to do with your ability to light the way for my sleigh. You are as bright as ever and when we’ve done our job tonight, we’ll go in search of the antidote! But only if you want to. Who knows, you might quite like being blue!”
When Dasher returned, Santa’s special cloth was as fresh as ever. Santa put it into his pocket and beckoned to the reindeers to take their places. Dasher hung back, not sure if he had been forgiven but Santa looked at him kindly and said,
“I hope you have learned your lesson now come on, take your place, that bend on Mountain number three doesn’t get any smoother with the passing centuries”.
When everyone was ready he looked at his reindeers and he was beaming with pure joy. This was Santa’s very favourite time of the year and every year it was as exciting as ever. Now Rudolph, Vixen, Blitzen, Dancer, Prancer, now Dasher, now Cupid, now Comet…off we go into this Christmas Eve…off we go…ho ho ho. Merry Christmas to all, Merry Christmas to all”.
© Dublin Schoolchildren