It’s me, Rudolph Dondersen, though you probably know me better as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a moniker that I absolutely adore.


They say time heals all wounds, but that’s only for people who aren’t known exclusively by a nickname based on their biggest insecurity. Who don’t have to hear about how they were ruthlessly bullied as a child for a birth defect they still possess in song form at every pharmacy, grocery store, and ice rink all winter, every winter, for the last 73 years. Who don’t have to keep the TV off for three straight months out of every year lest they stumble upon some bastardized, child-friendly version of the years they spent wandering the frozen wasteland of the North Pole alone, mercilessly hunted by a bloodthirsty monster because that was preferable to the emotional cruelty of their entire community, their own parents and a literal saint included.

Spoiler alert, Bumbles don’t bounce, and my friend Yukon Cornelius died in that cliff fall. I tried to save him, but I was just a few seconds too late, so I watched it all happen with my own eyes: his body smashing against the rocks, his own pickax lodged into his skull.

You think it’s cute to have Yukon ornaments on your tree? I can’t look at his face without remembering the way his blood painted the snow crimson—all of which could have been avoided if the other reindeer weren’t such dicks. I have PTSD from that shit, and guess what? I can’t even afford therapy.

That song, that movie? All of it unauthorized. I don’t get one cent of royalties, and my day job doesn’t pay that great—when your employer’s main business practice is giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products every year, there’s not exactly a lot of money left to go toward the company payroll, or even decent health insurance.

And speaking of health insurance: do you think it’s fun to be known as the reindeer who “saves the day” in extreme weather conditions? Reindeer can get hypothermia too, and I have no out-of-network coverage. In fact, the only medical professional in network is my old friend Hermey—one of the only two friends I’ve ever had, because again, Yukon is dead—and he’s a dentist. That’s not exactly going to help with frostbite, but because of that damned earworm, people seem to think I’m some sort of self-serving storm chaser.

I may not get called “Old Neon Nose” anymore, but I do get called “Glory Hog,” “Santa’s Pet,” and “Blizzard Buster.” It’s like, I don’t want to be out in this nor’easter any more than you do, Fireball. And at least you have some sort of protection in the form of my own body. Leading the sleigh team isn’t such an honor when I’m the one going headfirst into a blizzard in sub-zero temperatures, and I don’t even get hazard pay.

It's enough to make one succumb to drink, and boy did I. I’m sober now, but in the worst of my spiked hot chocolate years Clarice left me—which I can’t blame her for, except that she’s with Fireball now, so the company Christmas party is a fucking delight, watching my ex-girlfriend and ex-tormenter roll their eyes knowingly at each other whenever that song comes on over the speakers.

So this year, I’m begging you: take the song off your playlist. Take the Christmas special off your watch list. Make new traditions that don’t involve the glorification of bullying, and instead focus on peace on earth and goodwill toward all.

With love and desperation, your emotionally scarred neighborhood misfit,

Rudolph Dondersen