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Browser column: Rudolph reminds us that bullying is not OK

Happy holiday season, friends and neighbors.

With the onslaught of various holiday greetings and messages everywhere, I have been pondering the origins of some of these, for want of a better word, "things" that have become tradition - the colors of red and green, the tree with decorations, the wreath, various songs, St. Nicholas, stockings and so forth.

Recently I was somewhere - I don't remember quite where - and there was music playing. It was Christmas music, but it was unusual in that it involved a duet of cellos. They were playing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." The sound was lovely, but there was something so ridiculous about making lovely a song about a fictional cartoon character, that I began to wonder about Rudolph's origins.

According to Wikipedia:

"Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939, as an assignment for Chicago-based Montgomery Ward. The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year and it was decided that creating their own book would save money. Rudolph was supposed to be a moose but that was changed because a reindeer seemed friendly. May considered naming the reindeer 'Rollo' or 'Reginald' before deciding upon using the name 'Rudolph.' In its first year of publication, Montgomery Ward had distributed 2.5 million copies of Rudolph's story."

Wow. Those numbers certainly explain how Rudolph became so popular so quickly. If you are not familiar with the story of Rudolph, it goes like this:

"The story chronicles the experiences of Rudolph, a youthful reindeer buck (male) who possesses an unusual luminous red nose. Mocked and excluded by his peers because of this trait, Rudolph manages to prove himself one Christmas Eve after Santa Claus catches sight of Rudolph's nose and asks Rudolph to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees, and is finally treated better by his fellow reindeer for his heroism."

I'm glad I researched this. It is a story with a message. Making fun of or bullying others because of some difference from ourselves is wrong. A difference is often a blessing.

Quickly let me say that we at the Pine River Public Library will be closed Saturday, Dec. 24, and Monday, Dec. 26, as well as Monday, Jan. 2. Shortly thereafter - the very next day, in fact - the adult reading program, "Snow Time to Read," will begin.

Read 15 books in three months (until March 31) and receive a mug. Slips for chronicling your reading are available at our library. For those who fill out a second slip, your names will be placed in a drawing for an infused water bottle.

Happy reading!

Browser, the library cat