Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was a little reindeer with a cold. Because he blew his nose all the time, it turned very red and almost glowed.

That’s not the real story.

Once upon a time, there was a Viking named Rudolph. Because of the color of his beautiful beard, he was known as Rudolph the Red. On one trip he visited Santa at the N. Pole and people used to say, “Rudolph the Red Knows Reindeer.”

Not the real story either.

Once upon a time there was a rabbit with a red nose and …

Nope. Still not the story.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Robert MayOnce upon a 1939 there was a big department store called Montgomery Ward. They asked one of their copywriters to create a children’s Christmas story that they could give away to all the children who came to visit Santa. Rudolph (other name options considered were Rollo and Reginald) was a huge success.

After several years and several million copies of the book, a major publisher asked Montgomery Ward for the rights to the book.

In an act that defies modern business practices, somehow Bob persuaded Montgomery Ward to give back all the right to the book back. Seriously. And Bob got rich. Then Bob’s brother-in-law (Bob was remarried by then) wrote the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. A lot of celebrities didn’t want to record it, but Gene Autry (he was a famous singing cowboy in those days) recorded it and it sold more copies than any other Christmas song (except for White Christmas which is the perennial Numero Uno on the Xmas List).

Happy Reindeer.

Love, Mom