** Due to the increasing severity of MY ILLNESS, it has become impossible for me to continue to post on a regular basis. Unfortunately, as much as I desperately long to, I am also unable to visit each of your blogs often or reciprocate all the loving, supportive comments many of you continue to leave - even though at times it may appear as though you've arrived at some long ago, forsaken blog! With that said, I really want you to know that I miss every single one of you and that I really am still here! I'm just too sick and too weak most days to be able to sit up long enough to create a brand new post...or even read one. However, I absolutely do receive AND read every new encouraging word you leave (and, often, the old ones, again and again!) and I cherish them now more than ever! I truly appreciate your love, support, and, most importantly, your precious time spent on your knees in prayer for my family and me. It ALL means the world to me and I am truly blessed to have friends like you!
~Hugs and Sister Love, Teresa

FYI: All comments come to my email, which I can easily read on my phone. I also enjoy Facebook on my phone because I can catch up on A LOT in a very short time there. Soooo, if you're on Facebook, come 'friend' me there! {{HUGS}} **

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

THE STORY BEHIND RUDOLPH
AND
HOW IT BEGAN WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS

On a December night in Chicago, a little girl climbed onto her father's lap and asked a question. It was a simple question, asked in childlike curiosity, yet it had a heart-rending effect on Robert May.

"Daddy," four-year old Barbara asked, "Why isn't my Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?"

Bob May stole a glance across his shabby two room apartment. On a couch lay his young wife, Evelyn, racked with cancer. For two years she had been bedridden; for two years, all Bob's income and smaller savings had gone to pay for treatments and medicines.

The terrible ordeal already had shattered two adult lives. Now Bob suddenly realized the happiness of his growing daughter was also in jeopardy. As he ran his fingers through Barbara's hair, he prayed for some satisfactory answer to her question.

Bob May knew only too well what it meant to be "different." As a child he had been weak and delicate. With the innocent cruelty of children, his playmates had continually goaded the stunted, skinny lad to tears. Later at Dartmouth, from which he was graduated in 1926, Bob May was so small that he was always being mistaken for someone's little brother.

Nor was his adult life much happier. Unlike many of his classmates who floated from college into plush jobs, Bob became a lowly copy writer for Montgomery Ward, the big Chicago mail order house. Now at 33, Bob was deep in debt, depressed and sad.

Although Bob did not know it at the time, the answer he gave the tousled haired child on his lap was to bring him to fame and fortune. It was also to bring joy to countless thousands of children like his own Barbara. On that December night in the shabby Chicago apartment, Bob cradled his little girl's head against his shoulder and began to tell a story.

"Once upon a time there was a reindeer named Rudolph, the only reindeer in the world that had a big red nose. Naturally people called him Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." As Bob went on to tell about Rudolph, he tried desperately to communicate to Barbara the knowledge that, even though some creatures of God are strange and different, they often enjoy the miraculous power to make others happy.

Rudolph, Bob explained, was terribly embarrassed by his unique nose. Other reindeer laughed at him; his mother and father and sister were mortified too.

Even Rudolph wallowed in self pity. "Well," continued Bob, "one Christmas Eve, Santa Claus got his team of husky reindeer -Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixon ready for their yearly trip around the world. The entire reindeer community assembled to cheer these great heroes on their way. But a terrible fog engulfed the earth that evening, and Santa knew that the mist was so thick he wouldn't be able to find any chimney.

Suddenly Rudolph appeared, his red nose glowing brighter than ever. Santa sensed at once that here was the answer to his perplexing problem. He led Rudolph to the front of the sleigh, fastened the harness and climbed in. They were off! Rudolph guided Santa safely to every chimney that night. Rain and fog, snow and sleet; nothing bothered Rudolph, for his bright nose penetrated the mist like a beacon.

And so it was that Rudolph became the most famous and beloved of all the reindeer. The huge red nose he once hid in shame was now the envy of every buck and doe in the reindeer world. Santa Claus told everyone that Rudolph had saved the day and from that Christmas, Rudolph has been living serenely and happy."

Little Barbara laughed with glee when her father finished. Every night she begged him to repeat the tale until finally Bob could rattle it off in his sleep. Then, at Christmas time he decided to make the story into a poem like "The Night Before Christmas" and prepare it in bookish form illustrated with pictures, for Barbara's personal gift. Night after night, Bob worked on the verses after Barbara had gone to bed for he was determined his daughter should have a worthwhile gift, even though he could not afford to buy one...

Then as Bob was about to put the finishing touches on Rudolph, tragedy struck.

Evelyn May died. Bob, his hopes crushed, turned to Barbara as chief comfort. Yet, despite his grief, he sat at his desk in the quiet, now lonely apartment, and worked on "Rudolph" with tears in his eyes.

Shortly after Barbara had cried with joy over his handmade gift on Christmas morning, Bob was asked to an employee's holiday party at Montgomery Wards. He didn't want to go, but his office associates insisted. When Bob finally agreed, he took with him the poem and read it to the crowd. First the noisy throng listened in laughter and gaiety. Then they became silent, and at the end, broke into spontaneous applause. That was in 1938.

By Christmas of 1947, some 6 million copies of the booklet had been given away or sold, making Rudolph one of the most widely distributed books in the world. The demand for Rudolph sponsored products increased so much in variety and number that educators and historians predicted Rudolph would come to occupy a permanent place in the Christmas legend.

Through his years of unhappiness, the tragedy of his first wife's death and his ultimate success with Rudolph, Bob May has captured a sense of serenity. And as each Christmas rolls around, he recalls with thankfulness the night when his daughter Barbara's question inspired him to write the poem that closes on these lines: But Rudolph was bashful, despite being a hero!





Author, Lisa Copen, lives with rheumatoid arthritis and is the founder of Rest Ministries, an amazing Christian organization dedicated to serving those who are chronically ill. Lisa is also the author of 'Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend' and founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. To find more articles similar to this one and overall support while living with a chronic illness and/or pain, please visit Rest Ministries.


12 comments:

Debbie in Nashville said...

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year!
Debbie

Ter said...

can you send me a link to the original article for this story? I'd like to pass it along.

Judy Harper said...

I did not know this about Rudolph! Amazing! Thanks for sharing! I'm headed to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with my daughter and grandchildren, so I'm going to wish you and your family a "Merry Christmas"! God Bless and keep you!

Deb said...

It's great to know the story behind the story.

That one has such a compelling history.

Hope that you and your family have a Merry Christmas.

Sweet dreams.

Kelly said...

I didn't know this story, thank you so much for blessing us with this history.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Merry Christmas to you, Teresa! So glad to have met so many great friends this year.

I'm a full-time mummy... said...

Awww.. such a heartwarming story! Thanks for sharing!

Samantha said...

What a wonderful post, I did not know about this.
I so love the story of Rudolph, one of my favorites, thanks so much for sharing !
Blessings to you my dear sweet friend.

septembermom said...

Rudolph was beautiful and so are you!!

Merry Christmas Teresa!! Thank you for this wonderful post. I wish you all the best in the coming year. God bless you and your family.

Teresha@Marlie and Me said...

I loved learning the history of this beloved character! tfs!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I want not concur on it. I regard as nice post. Particularly the title attracted me to read the sound story.

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