Nothing’s Sacred, NOt Even Reindeer

It seems even Rudolph isn’t safe from the never-ending battle of the sexes. Witness this letter to Dear Abby:

DEAR ABBY: With the holidays here, songs about Santa and his reindeer are filling the air. I’m writing to talk about reindeer antlers. Reindeer are unique
because they are the only members of the deer family in which both genders have antlers, which are made of bone and grown annually.
In the summer and fall, you cannot identify a reindeer as a “he” or a “she” without further investigation. In late December, however, only the females still
have their antlers.
During the summer months, the males use their antlers to attract females and defend their harem (anywhere from five to 15 females) from other males. When
they are no longer “looking for love,” the males lose their antlers. The females, on the other hand, keep theirs through the winter and into the spring,
and use them to compete for food and to protect their young.
The only reindeer with antlers at Christmastime are the GIRLS, Abby. So Rudolph would have been appropriately named “Rudolphia,” and the other reindeer
would have been laughing and calling HER names until the glow from HER nose guided Santa’s sleigh that foggy Christmas eve. — JOYCE CAMPBELL, PH.D.

That is actually pretty interesting, about the antlers. But then again, reindeer are interesting and unusual animals. They are so strongly associated with Christmas, Santa Claus, elves and flying sleighs that some people have a hard time believing they are real. Oh yes, Virginia, there really are reindeer; they’ve been domesticated for centuries, both as pack animals and as a source of meat, milk and hides. Their milk, in fact, is some of the richest in the world.
But facts just get in the way of a good story, and so they must have done way back in 1939, when Rudolph was created as a Christmas advertising gimmick by the Montgomery Ward department-store chain. There’s no way to know now if his creator, Robert May, knew anything about reindeer, but he clearly didn’t know about the business with the antlers.
Since his inception, Rudolph has firmly established himself as an essential part of Christmas folklore. Gene Autry’s version of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” is one of the best-selling songs in history. Ask anybody, and chances are good to excellent that Rudolph is the only reindeer whose name they can remember. (For the record, the others are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid and Donder and Blitzen.)
Personally I’m not so convinced Rudolph is a she. Know what I think? I think other reindeer laughed at HIM because he was the only boy reindeer they ever met who didn’t shed his antlers in winter the way he was supposed to.
And note please, that I did not stoop so low as to make an unfunny joke about female reindeer never getting lost because they don’t mind asking for directions. You’d think Dear Abby, of all people, would retire that old chestnut, but no such luck:

Dear DR. CAMPBELL: Fascinating. This clearly explains why Santa doesn’t get lost at Christmas. Females are never reluctant to ask for directions … ho,
ho, ho.

*groan, gag, sigh*
Rudolph, hold your antlered head up high, and let that nose shine. You’re The Man.


7 Responses to “Nothing’s Sacred, NOt Even Reindeer”

  1. Walt Says:

    When I reread the article my suspicions where confirmed!. . . JOYCE!. . . Dr. Campbell’s first name (wonder if she has a red nose) alarmed me to the fact that it was a lady. . . oops. . . I should say woman . . .oops . . . I should say female . . . that is seeking to discredit that scarlet schnozed artiodactyl . . . fortunately for Rudolph it was his efflulgent sneezer that Mr. Autry was immortalizing with his holiday melody. No mention was made of Rudolph’s antlers nor the timing of their shedding. Oh, that would be Mr. GENE Autry (not Jean). And a little off subject but. . .I bet a man created the GPS since they always have to drive wherever the family wants to go. . .or maybe it was a woman since they don’t want to drive but always want to tell men where to go.

    • ghostscribe Says:

      I never thought about the GPS before. We have a Magellan Roadmate, and its voice is a female voice. We call her Maggie. If other GPS units have female voices, is that significant, and if so, in what way? Hmmm? Hmmmm!

      • Walt Says:

        hmmm . . . Maggie Magellan. . .I do know that some devices offer you a choice of voices . . . It would be interesting to find out why individuals select the voice they do . . . the voice reminds them of someone – (spouse, parent, signficant other) sounds confident – (Oprah, Obama, Patton or Churchill) instills confidence – (Dr. Phil, Roosevelt, Reagan, King). Some sitcoms (not a good source of research) imply a consumer could share a clandestine relationship with the voice. I could see that happening . . . after all if you miss a turn . . . the voice just calmly says “recalculating” . . . MAGGIE doesn’t roll HER eyes, sigh heavily, and spew forth venom about your navigational skills or lack there of . . . .just a pleasant voice giving directions with no judgement. This voice also has an on off switch. I see government funded research involved in answering your previous questions!

      • ghostscribe Says:

        Speaking only for myself, I’d have to say neither Dr. Phil nor Ronald Reagan (as President; as movie star, it might be different) exactly fill me to the brim with confidence. But it could be worse: Ozzy Osbourne’s voice on a GPS, for instance, would be not only annoying but downright dangerous. I mean, what if his garbled, slurred, ravaged speech caused you to somehow drive into the Grand Canyon? Yikes.

  2. becky Says:

    did someone i work with inspire this blog?

  3. Ellen Scharf Says:

    Okay, I understand all that confusion now about girl reindeer having the antlers, but can you clarify for me if the boys fly too?

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