I’ve been enjoying the reports of the December calendar shot. I can picture the sleigh and eight Dane deer, Santa off-screen voicing her commands. To me, the scene sums up what the Service Dog project is all about. Danes, yes. Teamwork, yes. But beyond all the skilled trainers and trainees lies a bigger story. The real story of Rudolph.
As a kid, Rudolph topped my list of TV Christmas specials, second only to the Grinch. Frosty had no real issues and the Peanuts gang aaw-shucked their way through life – not very realistic. But, despite the sometimes disturbing claymation expressions, I could relate to Rudolph. He was different.
As an adult, however, the TV special has lost its ranking. Rudolph was different. So diifferent that others laughed and called him names. In fact, they bullied him. At one point, even Santa asked him to tone down that unfortunate nose.
But Rudolph forged on. He found friends who saw past the nose. Meanwhile, when everyone back home (including Santa,) discovered that Rudolph could be useful, they wanted him back. Yes, yes, they’d accept him and his funky nose. No one seemed to notice that he’d already accepted himself.
Perhaps they were too busy exiling anything else ‘different’ onto the island of misfit toys. Square wheels? Unusual name? Off with you! In the TV special, Santa – the same guy who cast off the toys that were not ‘normal’ – dipped down from the sky with a jolly Ho, Ho, Ho in some reversal-of-conscience to set free the misfit toys. He hadn’t noticed that they’d already stood up, square wheels and all, and found a way to dance.
In reality, the island of misfits is no island at all, but a haven in Ipswich. And Santa may be white-haired, but I’ve never heard you burst out in a jolly Ho, Ho, Ho. Even so, at the Service Dog Project, those of us who are different/balance-challenged/minus a wheel feel welcome.
And, you don’t sweep in to save the day like the TV Santa. Instead, you honor the part of us that forges on by reaching into your sleigh and giving us a four-legged dance partner.
Thank you, Carlene. You’ll go down in history.
– Renee & Sir Thomas