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“Hey Gertrude! (The Real Truth)"
© 2022 Paula C Snyder, published in 2023 "I Did It - Short Stories by Everyday People - Volume IV" (Ann Jagger, Publisher)

Hello. I am “Dancer”, or at least that’s the name I’ve been given. (Believe me. I am no dancer! I have 4 left hooves to prove it.) Nobody ever mentions it, but I am the only female reindeer in Santa’s crew. Kind of a chunky female, I don’t stand out too much amongst the group until it’s antler season. The males grow bigger and better antlers every year, then lose them for a few months until the antlers grow back. Me, I am protected most of the time, unless I bear calves. Sadly, I am a barren female reindeer.

You may wonder how I manage, when all the other reindeer laugh and call me names! “Hey, Gertrude.” “Hey, skinny legs.” “Hey, short antlers!” You know what? I’ve taken to wearing antler extensions just to fit in when all you folks want to take pictures on those flat oblong devices. What are those, anyway? They look like very hard shiny oblong biscuits. Can I eat it?
“No! Don’t eat my phone!” A “phone”? How can you take pictures on a phone?

The other reindeer chide me. “Get out of the way.” “You’re not fast enough.” “You can’t run on 4 left hooves!” It never stops. “Let someone else lead the sleigh.” Well, I tell you, I earned my right to lead. I can lead with the best of them.

Are you wondering about how I, Dancer the reindeer, started leading the sleigh on Christmas Eve? You think you know the story, but you don’t. I need to dispel the rumors. It’s not Rudolph who’s led the sleigh – ever. It’s a man’s world. Why can’t females get their due credit?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Rudolph. (“Rudy” we call him.) He’s the runt of the family. The baby. Everyone coddles him. When he runs with the sleigh along with all of us, he has a difficult time keeping up, but somehow he does. Nobody excludes him. They all love him. I will tell you his story a little bit later. I want to lay some groundwork first.

Santa loves us all equally because each of us has something unique to offer. He encourages us to do our best and to try new things. That’s how I got my first chance to lead the sleigh. I did such a good job, I was invited again year after year. To this day, I am the only reindeer who can lead Santa’s sleigh.

My personal unique offering is my ability to memorize world maps. Once memorized, I visualize them in my reindeer brain any time needed, from any place in the world. Talk about G P S systems! My brain is a complete G P S. I don’t even have to think. I can lead with my eyes closed. (I tried that in the year 2020 and didn’t miss a beat.) Once Santa realized we could never get lost with me leading, he gave me the job permanently!

Now I will tell you about why none of the other reindeer can lead the sleigh.

Let’s take Dasher first. Dasher is really fast, but he has no clue where he’s going from second to second, let alone on a ride around the world in one night. The year Santa gave him a chance, he dashed so fast around the world that we left and were back the next minute. It was so fast that Santa couldn’t even drop gifts down the chimney, let alone make a personal visit to taste the cookies and milk left for him. Santa’s elves were so upset that all their hard work went down the drain. The speed was too much! It tired us all out. There was no way we could attempt it again in the same night. The good children woke up in wonderment, sadness, and tears. No gifts under the Christmas tree for them – or anybody!

Next, Prancer. Prancer is a nice male reindeer, though a little bit odd. He’s taken to dying his antlers all sorts of colors. He’s the artist of the group. When Prancer’s chance to lead came around, he told Santa he’d rather stay at the North Pole to paint Elf portraits than go on the gift run. When we must work as a team, Prancer can be coerced to help us balance out the sleigh. He won’t lead though. His head and antlers stay in the clouds dreaming of rainbows, frog princesses, and glitter glue. He says it takes too much thought to lead when his mind is doing all these beautiful things. Why would we want to ruin that? We’re not going to force him…

Vixen is too busy trying to attract the ladies around the North Pole. His parents gave him this name. (Have you ever heard the song – “A Boy Named Sue”?) Vixen is normally a female reindeer name. They call him “Vix” for short. That takes the name-calling down a notch. Either way, the other male reindeer are jealous of Vixen’s ability to attract the other female reindeer. I could go for him myself! He’s a looker, but I never tried. Way out of reach. There’s always some floozy hanging around. It’s sickening to watch Vix show off his broad reindeer chest. Then he flexes his muscles down to his cloven toes. Ugghhh.

Now Comet is an interesting guy. He loves chasing tail! I mean this in the literal sense, only he doesn’t chase anyone else’s tail. He chases his own! Round and round, trying to catch his tail – it’s always a hair too far away for him to succeed. When steering with the rest of the pack, Santa has him harnessed in with blinders on, to deter this habit. Imagine what would happen if he kept chasing his own tail trying to lead Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve! We’d never leave the North Pole! Santa’s threatened to cut Comet’s tail off, but he’s not a mean person. Santa doesn’t like to induce pain of any kind, so he devised other methods to keep Comet functional.

Okay, you want to hear about Cupid? He’s the truest lover boy. He can’t help but swoon over every reindeer that comes along. He loves ALL reindeer! Cupid’s always admiring tails and antlers, runt forms and majestic forms, brown eyes and black eyes. He’s a sweet guy who wants to help everyone. The problem is, being so social and admiring, the guy just can’t focus! If he led Santa’s sleigh, he’d be dragging us off to the stars because they are so beautiful! We wouldn’t get a thing done that special day everyone’s counting on our team.

Donner, as we call him (his real name is Donder) likes to make noise, every kind of noise one can imagine, as he trots along. He whistles tunes walking around the North Pole. I have to say, he’s great at whistling, but it’s annoying all the same. When Donner leads the sleigh, he can’t help but sing “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. Ugh! I don’t know how they came up with such a story. We’ve never, in our lifetimes or in the history of reindeer – for that matter – run over a human being or any of the creatures that inhabit the Earth. Donner puts on this crazy voice and starts singing at the top of his lungs “Graaaaand-maaaaa gottttt ruuuuuuunnnnnn oooooooooooooo-ver…..” Shut up, Donner! We can’t tolerate that, so we keep him inside the team where he hums to himself.

Blitzen is a hazard waiting to happen. As I said, we reindeer never have run over a human or live creature, but Blitzen knocks over objects and breaks them. If he were leading Santa’s sleigh, he would likely put a hoof through every rooftop we land on! Santa doesn’t have traditional insurance to pay for such damages. Can you imagine the lawsuits? It would put us out of business. Then, what would all those starry-eyed children, waiting for their dream toys do? Disaster.

So, I think you can understand why I, Dancer, have been the best choice all along. Before I go back to work at the North Pole, I need to tell you how “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” song got everyone believing that Rudy led the sleigh on a foggy night.

It was in the late 1930s, before the human race went fully into a second world-war, that our little Rudy the Reindeer had a terrible cold. His poor nose was very red from blowing and wiping the drips away. Rudy was miserable. His nose was so irritated and drippy, it looked shiny at night. All the reindeer were trying to comfort him. Then, Donner comes around, humming. We’re ready to shut him up, but we saw a smile come to poor miserable Rudy’s face! What was that? Donner started singing, quite sweetly, “Rudy the red-nosed reindeer….” Then we all got into it and made up the rest of the song. We must have been so loud laughing and singing that the song carried itself all over the world. The humans picked it up, and one of them got a bright idea to publish it as a song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”. A cowboy named Gene got famous for singing it, and animated features were made. Some people on the mainland got rich because of that. The worst part is that everyone believed the story in the song. The rumor continues on and on and on!

Now that you know the truth, I am heading back to work. Just remember, it’s me, Dancer, who leads Santa’s Sleigh every Christmas Eve (whether it’s foggy or not). “Ruuuu-deeeee, Ruuuu-deeeee, Ruuuu-deeeee, the red-noooooossssed…..” Donner! Shut up!

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