My wife and I had the sheer joy of taking two of our grandchildren to see a performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer recently. This is the 50th year of the fabled story of the reindeer with the genetic anomaly who leads Santa and the other reindeer on Christmas Eve during a major snowstorm.

But while it is easy to get caught up in the wonderful songs, the beautiful staging and the happy ending as Rudolph saves the day, the real message of the play is how we all need to tolerate differences and accept those who are not in the “mainstream.”

Rudolph with that red nose is made fun of by his peers, one of the elves who wants to be a dentist instead of making toys is taken to task by his boss, and the town of misfit toys is filled with sad and misshapen gifts that never made it into Santa’s bag. The toys only wish is to be useful and respected, despite their oddities.

For a play that is 50 years old it is heartening to see that Romeo Muller and Robert May, who wrote the play and Johnny Marks who wrote the music for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had the foresight and the compassion to develop a story and a score that reminded the audience that differences should not be the basis for judging people. Rather what matters is not outward appearances or life choices but what value those who are different give to others in making the world a better place. This is why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a timeless classic.

As my wife and I left the theater we talked about Rudolph with our young grandchildren, who were enthralled with the play, but we didn’t miss the opportunity to tell them about the importance of accepting those who are different. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is considered a children’s Christmas play but it has a universal message that all of us need to remember.


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