The 1964 stop-motion version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been voted the most beloved holiday classic on television and there's a reason for that: Rudolph tells the story of each of us in our struggles, our blessings, our disappointments and our victories. Rudolph and his friends illustrate for us the inner-battles we are called to fight because of Christmas and what it means and because what we mean to God as his children. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer relates to us a simple but truthful parable about what life itself means and why.
From Saint Nicholas To Santa Claus that a "fat Santa" means abundance and bounty, the physical reminder in lean times that the Lord has blessed us generously in the past, and, like Job thinking to himself, "Perhaps the Lord will do so again." But in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa can't be bothered with being "fat," he's busy; why? Because of the storm of "coldness" which has seized people's hearts. What's the purpose of a "fat Santa" reminding people of the Lord's blessings if people have forgotten the Lord?
The Bright Autumn Moon: The Wolf Man, I discussed how in Hebrew the word for "word" sounds like silver, and the Word made Incarnate, Jesus Christ, is thereby depicted in silver on the Crucifix and that's why something of silver is the only thing that can kill a werewolf. But in terms of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Christmas tree is a symbol of our soul, and in the song Silver and Gold, the silver is the Word of God that we hear and the gold is the acts of selfless love which we make that decorates our souls, just like ornaments on a tree. It's the purification of this gold that is the work of the Spirit because gold is the most precious thing on earth, but it is Love that makes us most like God, so to "refine" our love is to perform works of love, and that is the gold we must all strive for, not like Yukon who searches for rocks.
|They're really on their way, now. Why can't the A.S. swim? Water is sacramental, so the A.S. not being able to swim is consistent with nothing evil being able to pass through pure/running water because water is the element of the Spirit.|
It emphasizes his appetites and what he really wants out of life, riches. That doesn't make Yukon bad, it just doesn't make him able to understand what Rudolph is going through and--while Yukon will be the best friend he can be--he won't be able to help Rudolph and that's why Rudolph will end up leaving them. When they land on the Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph and Hermey are literally brought into communion with others like them, others who don't know their purpose, but know they want to bring happiness to someone. As King Moonraiser points out, Rudolph and Hermey are living, not toys, and the Creator has a separate purpose for them. Rudolph has realized that his nose (his gift) is going to lead the Abominable Snowman to them, and he doesn't want to endanger their lives, but he doesn't understand what gifts are so he won't' let them help him either. This is the way God calls us--not really away from others--but closer to Himself.
The storm is a gift, like his nose, because without the trials that hit us, we wouldn't know how strong we are nor the strength God is willing to give us to get through the trials. Of course, we would just rather that we didn't have trials, but on this side of heaven there is no avoiding them, so the storm is sent because, without the storm and the darkness it brings, Rudolph's gift would never be realized. Why does Rudolph have to go into the Wilderness to learn about himself? In the Wilderness there is no place to hide. There is you and everything lurking in you. When Rudolph has grown and realizes he needs to go back to his family, to Christmas Town, he has defeated the Abominable Snowman that has been "eating at him" all this time; Rudolph has finally grown enough to know that none of that makes a difference and there are more important things. How does Rudolph know to go to the cave of the Abominable Snowman? Because you learn about evil in the Wilderness, you learn where and how it hides and how it tries to deceive you; knowing these tricks, Rudolph thinks he's ready to save others (as he himself has been saved) but like Luke Skywalker, he doesn't quite know everything and has to depend on others to bail him out.
They tell "the story" of what has happened to them, and it is in the form of a story that the others realize how wrong they were (but it was the hand of God allowing it so He could bring good from it, but that doesn't excuse us when we have failed to treat someone with love). When Yukon and the A.S. come into Christmas Town, it seems odd that "Bumbles bounce," but it's true: even that which has done evil can be reformed and "bounce back" from their old ways into new, reformed ways. It is, after all, fitting because the greatest sinners deserve the greatest mercy and glorify the Lord the most, and that's why the A.S. puts the star atop the tree, the image of the soul and the star of Bethlehem to which he owes the mercy God has shown him, like Ebenezer Scrooge, for example.
The sleigh, in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is the vehicle of God's good works, which we are all called to contribute to; the ones who have been spiritually prepared for the difficult times facing us on earth are the ones using their gifts to bring gifts (love and the sacraments) to the rest of Christ's flock, and also to help others realize and use their gifts for God's glory and their own self-fulfillment. Above all, that storm, as I discussed in the beginning, is the storm of coldness which freezes our hearts against God and so it takes someone truly devoted (such as a saint) to let their light shine brightly and with the warmth of love to melt the blizzards of hardened hearts.
It's the sign of God's hand in everything that everything has a purpose and a reason, and nothing is wasted in the Divine Plan, even a toy. No matter how insignificant something is, or how significant, everything has the attention of the Divine Author and has been accounted for in His Heart. We don't understand, but that is where faith comes in, and when we are short on our own faith, the Lord will send someone like Yukon or Hermey to help our faith, and at some point He will send us to help someone in their faith.
Rudolph is overcoming the wolf, the devil inside himself that keeps him from becoming what God wants him to be (symbolized by the Abominable Snowman). It's like the way St. Michael the archangel received his name, when he cast Satan into hell and cried out "Who compares to God?" (which is what Michael means in Hebrew) and, just as a wolf eats deer, but that is what Rudolph is named for, so we must remember that the devil would eat us, but we must overcome his attacks constantly, and this 1964 children's story of Christmas is a wonderful way to remind us how to do that.