When you see a white-tailed deer, you can easily distinguish between a male and a female: the buck has antlers and the doe does not.
But another member of the deer family, the caribou, is harder to figure. BOTH sexes grow antlers, but they shed them at different times. The males lose their antlers in the early winter, by mid-December, while the females keep theirs until spring. This is pretty unique; only one other member of the deer family shares this trait. It’s a cousin of the caribou that lives in the northern stretches of Eurasia and North America, stands about three and a half feet tall, weighs 300 pounds, and runs about 15 miles an hour. Nine of them have been known to fly.
Let’s put all that together and state it more plainly: If you see a reindeer on your roof in late December, and it has antlers on its head…it’s a girl.
Yup, Santa’s got an all-doe team working for him! Now, you could have expected Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen to be ladies, but Comet, Cupid, Donner (which means “Thunder” in German), and Blitzen (“Lighting”)? Pretty macho names for she-deer.
Some cynics might argue that Santa’s team might be younger bull reindeer; they tend to keep their antlers later into the winter, sometimes as late as December 24. However, our knowledge of the reindeer goes back a long way; they must be at least 100 years old. Another possibility is that, in some parts of world, folks don’t use reindeer bulls to pull their sleds, they use steers. And steers keep their antlers similar to does. But in order to create a team of reindeer steers, Santa would have to…oh, no, he wouldn’t!
Now, let’s consider the case of Rudolph. There’s no doubt that the other reindeer, “used to laugh and call HIM names.” And in the famous animated version he ends up married to Clarice and having kids of his own. So you gotta conclude he’s a guy. On the other hand, he has a luminescent nose – and hangs out with a dentist, a prospector, and the Abominable Snowman – so maybe the normal rules don’t apply to him.
And, if you take that a step further, since all of Santa’s reindeer are clearly magical, perhaps the “normal” rules don’t apply to them either.
Maybe therein lies the moral. It’s all part of the allegory. Perhaps it doesn’t matter whether you’re a buck or a doe. Whether you were born that way or were, um, altered.
Perhaps the message is, no matter who we are or appear to be, we are all equally capable of magic.
As the big elf himself says, “Happy Christmas to ALL, and to ALL a good night.”