A lesson on Inclusion from a Red Nosed Reindeer

It’s Cyber Monday, which means millions of Americans have begrudgingly gone back to work, where they will sneak in some internet shopping while they reheat their four hundredth helping of turkey in some post-Thanksgiving mash up.  And the most important part?  I can now publicly confess that I have been watching Christmas movies and listening to carols since the calendar struck November!

I love Christmas.  I make no apologies for it.  I embrace my inner child and indulge in all the holiday goodness.  Though it is frustrating that most people associate Christmas with capitalism and secular storylines I have been thinking through how I can use those things to reinforce the gospel for my son.

Ransom and I were watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer the other day and I was struck by how many teachable moments the thirty minute Claymation classic held.  The story of Rudolph is steeped in the idea of inclusion.  (Confession we may have watched Rudolph approximately 100 times at this point in the season).

I’m sure you’re familiar with the story and likely know the song by heart (I’m listening to Jimmy Durante sing it as I type this).  Let’s review the story through the lens of disability

Story begins and Rudolph’s parents welcome their sweet little buck.

It’s apparent that Rudolph is different at birth.  (The grief cycle begins…)

Rudolph’s parents are greeted by guests who want to come welcome their new bundle.  Santa comes over.  And sadly, Santa is a jerk.  Yeah, I said it.  This isn’t Santa’s best moment for sure.  He immediately points out that Rudolph’s nose is……gasp…..different.  It glows.

Rudolph’s Dad has a very difficult time with this and insists on Rudolph wearing a fake nose so he can “fit in”.  (Do you see where I’m going with this???)

Rudolph goes to Reindeer School and it becomes even more apparent that he’s different.  He gets picked on.  (Apparently kids AND young deer are quite unkind.  Sounds like bullying to me.)

Rudolph ends up running away where he encounters others who feel like misfits.  They just don’t fit in.  They’re “different”.

And so we end up on the island of misfit toys.  A place filled with awesome toys that simply don’t measure up to the standards that society has set forth.  Sounds a lot like some places I’ve been….. and some people I love.

(And this is a KID’S Christmas special.  When you take the time to digest it – it’s heart breaking).

We all know how the story ends.  Through a whimsical and musical series of events Rudolph ends up saving Christmas.  (Have you noticed Christmas needs a lot of saving?  It’s always in jeopardy and someone has to save it….but I digress.)

And the best part – Rudolph’s nose, his perceived “disability” is exactly what Santa needs to get the job done.  There’s a part to play in this Christmas story that only he can play.

So how do we reconcile this Claymation tradition to the Christmas Story in the Gospel?  Well, it doesn’t seem to be a big stretch to me.

Take this opportunity to start talking to your kids about bullying.  The sooner we begin talking with our children about bullying and how to stop it, the better off they will be.  So the minute they can understand and appreciate this simple Christmas special – start the dialogue.  Leveraging pop culture to reinforce biblical principles you are teaching your children only helps to strengthen the message.  Are there “Rudolphs” in your children’s ministries who have been made to feel like misfits?  Are there kids in your neighborhood who are regularly bullied?  How can your family take steps to reach out to those who feel like “misfits”?

So as I introduce Ransom to some Christmas Classics I’ll be sharing with you ways I plan to talk to him about the real meaning of Christmas…..that God came to love ALL of us.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here’s to Changing the World…together!

Harmony (and Ransom too!)


2 thoughts on “A lesson on Inclusion from a Red Nosed Reindeer

  1. I love it and seriously wish I had thought of it! Something similar fleetingly passed across my radar about two years ago and right out the other side. I can hardly wait for your next installment! Thanks, Harmony! It does occur to me that in families where inclusion is modeled, healthy (need I say Biblical) perspectives develop as the norm for life. I am seeing this in special needs families with typical sibs and in more typical families who understand creation and life from a Biblical view.

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