Sunday, December 11, 2011

Misfits & Nitwits: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The 1964 stop-motion version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has been voted the most beloved holiday classic on television and there's a reason for that: Rudolph tells the story of each of us in our struggles, our blessings, our disappointments and our victories. Rudolph and his friends illustrate for us the inner-battles we are called to fight because of Christmas and what it means and because what we mean to God as his children. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer relates to us a simple but truthful parable about what life itself means and why.
(This is a large video file and may require a moment to load or you can view it here on YouTube).  Rudolph is a story of deliverance, not just the deliverance of toys at Christmas, but the deliverance of people from the snares of sin, despair and loneliness, just as God delivered Israel from the bitter bondage in Egypt, and delivered all people from the torments of sin through salvation and redemption. The birth of Rudolph mirrors the birth of Christ and the life of Moses: the chosen one who is then cast out and wanders alone, then returns triumphant and saves his people. This is intentional, because our hearts grow cold to the story, to the message of God's love and His Way of teaching us, His children, so we have to be reminded with the same message, but packaged in a new story, and that's why we still love the story of Rudolph so much.
Newspaper relaying the seriousness of the blizzard. Why a newspaper headline? Papers are like the secular "gospel," telling us the daily news as opposed to The Gospel which brings us the Good news. Note the byline of this particular headline, Sanitation Army digging us out! which may call to mind the Salvation Army that calls us to be the soldiers of Christ and dig our ways out of the sins of hell. Another headline reads, Foul Weather May Postpone Christmas; why? "Foul" is likely word-play for fowl, or bird, the Holy Spirit who appeared as a Dove at the Baptism of Christ, announcing Him as God's Son. The "Foul" in the headline would be like a raven, a crow, a bird of death instead of the Dove of Life, because the extreme winter weather brings death to hearts warm with love for God. Now, the obvious point to be made is, If Santa symbolizes Christmas love, then why does he live in the North Pole where there is always snow? And you are very wise for pointing that out. This is the difference: Santa, as St. Nicholas, is "an athlete of God," and, as such, he devotes his entire life to serving God through his unique calling (each of us have a unique calling) which is to bring toys to children at Christmas. Santa, living the life of a saint, fights the coldness of his heart everyday and every moment, in other words, every moment, he is basically at Church, worshiping God (which is why the place where he lives is called Christmas Town): Santa lives in the North Pole because others do not live there, so Santa can more easily find God there. The North Pole is like "the desert" where the early Desert Church Fathers went to meditate and battle the devil, but Santa's desert is one of snow, not sand. The huge amounts of snow equate barrenness, nothing can grow in snow (the Christmas trees do, but we will discuss that below) but in the big blizzards the newspaper headlines are talking about, we can't grow anything, so it's a sign of barrenness, and there are two types of barrenness: there is the barrenness that we intentionally seek out/God takes us to so we can distance ourselves from the world and purge ourselves of sin, or there is the type of barrenness where one no longer finds happiness, fulfillment or joy in life because what they have done with their life has made it impossible for the love of God to grow in their hearts. God will drain happiness from our lives as punishment, but also as a calling, to turn away from the world and towards Him (which is what the season of Advent and Lent is all about). So, the cold and snow is being sent as a punishment to people around the world so we realize how cold our hearts have grown to God; Rudolph is being sent to us so we know what the cure for the cold is: love.
When the film opens, there is a terrible snow blizzard threatening to cancel Christmas. Of course there is a blizzard and of course it will cancel Christmas, this is the "cold" that fills our hearts instead of the warmth of love for God and the more love for God that is lost, the greater the chance that there will be no Christmas because what is Christmas but us stopping to remember how much God loves us? The over-powering cold in our hearts towards God makes it possible that it will be canceled, that, like the Grinch who stole Christmas, our hearts will freeze out the power of the Holy Spirit; this is evidenced by the newspaper headline, Cold Wave in 12th Day, which is an allusion to the song, The 12 Days Of Christmas, where our "True Love" is Christ Himself, giving us the twelve different gifts. Part of the genius of the film is that its Sam (Burl Ives) the talking Snowman who narrates the adventure for us; why is Sam a spark of genius? Sam is made of snow the way we are made from dust; the snowman reminds us gently of the humility to which we are called because we are made from such common "stuff," despite that, however, God calls us to great heights.
Sam the Snowman played by Burl Ives. Why is his name "Sam?" It's short for "Samuel," the prophet, whose mother was Hannah. Why is this important? In talking about barrenness, Hannah is a prime example, because the name "Samuel" means "God has heard," because God heard Hannah's prayer for a son when she had no children. Likewise, in the film, God hears the lack of prayers of people and knows they have not kept His Commandments, living according to their own designs rather than to His. Why is the narrator of the story a "talking snowman?" Because Sam is a man who has known great barrenness in life, and because of that barrenness, he knows how to be warm and kind to others, because he knows what it is like--as does Rudolph--to be shunned by others and have no one to be kind to you. Please note Sam's costume: He wears a black hat on his head; why? Snowmen don't need hats. Hats, and anything on the head, symbolize our thoughts, and black always symbolizes death (as we shall see with Rudolph's "false nose" his father gives him to wear). Sam is "dead" to things of the world and alive to things of the spirit, which is why he lives in the North Pole: that's where the greatest good for his soul can be achieved.  There is a green ribbon around the hat; why? Even though he is "dead" to the world, he has hope for a bright, happy future because of the promises of Christmas which came with the birth of Our Lord. The red berries on his hat symbolize love that is ever present and constant in his thoughts, just like the hope of the green ribbon. Why does he wear the collar with the black ribbon? The neck symbolizes that which leads us in life, like a leash. Again, black is the color of death, so Sam is not lead by things of the world, rather, by the things of the spirit, love and God. Why does he wear a green vest? Again, green is the color of hope, and the torso is the location of our primary organs which keep us alive, so the torso is the sign of our life, how we live (like Santa's red coat not fitting him in the next scene); Sam, again, lives in hope, as should we all. The green umbrella he carries? You might say, Why does a snowman need an umbrella at the North Pole? But Sam shows us why he needs an umbrella: to shield himself from the Abominable Snowman. The hope the green umbrella symbolizes is what makes Sam the "good snow man" and Abominable "abominable" (until his conversion at the end of the film). Why does Sam wear a silver watch? The word for "silver" in Hebrew sounds like the word for "word" in Hebrew, because Jesus Christ was the Word Made Flesh; so, because clocks symbolize history and the grand scheme of existence, Sam looks at time through the promise of the Messiah and what He did and what He promised would come in the future.
What about Santa?
Why does Santa get so skinny, and why does he need to be "fat" for Christmas? Back to our topic of "barrenness," Santa lives at the North Pole, spending all his time worshiping God. Santa, like the Apostle Paul, is being "emptied out" for people and their sins, a "victim soul" who offers themselves for Christ in penance for sinners who refuse to repent, which is why Santa gets so skinny, he's being emptied out. Why does Santa need to be fat? Spending all his time in the North Pole, in basic isolation from the rest of humanity, Santa has to remember the people for whom he sacrifices himself, he has to fill himself up with the warmth of love from others, gratitude, the milk of human kindness and, as a saint of God, he has to bring fullness to others (because we cannot give what we have not received, so even though Santa is being "poured out" as an oblation for sin, God does so in order to fill Santa up with the "new wine" of heavenly cheer, so that Santa can then distribute that to others. Santa in his red coat--red symbolizing his appetite for love and faith--is filled with both of those virtues for the benefit of all humanity, to replenish us when we have run out, like the guests running out of wine at the Wedding at Cana. 
Sam directs our attention to the, "Castle on the left" where Mr. & Mrs. Claus live and we here Mrs. Claus extolling Santa to "Eat, eat!" I touched on this briefly in From Saint Nicholas To Santa Claus that a "fat Santa"  means abundance and bounty, the physical reminder in lean times that the Lord has blessed us generously in the past, and, like Job thinking to himself, "Perhaps the Lord will do so again." But in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa can't be bothered with being "fat," he's busy; why? Because of the storm of "coldness" which has seized people's hearts. What's the purpose of a "fat Santa" reminding people of the Lord's blessings if people have forgotten the Lord?
What do Christmas trees symbolize? A Christmas tree is nearly exactly like the Tree of the Cross. The Tree of the Cross is the Tree of Desolation and barrenness, when God has allowed us to be emptied (like the "skinny" Santa) and poured out in penance for our sins and the sins of others so we can more closely identify with Christ: by going through what He Himself went through, we understand what sacrifice He made to undergo His Passion and pay for us the debt of Original Sin which we never could on our on; therefore, we who have been called to Christ help pay the debt for the sins others have committed so we understand why God deserves to be loved with all of our hearts. The Christmas tree, on the other hand, is an excellent materialization of the soul that is clothed in virtue and victory: when Sam sings the famous carol Silver and Gold, those are the most precious metals there are, so they stand in for the most glorious virtues with which a soul can be adorned. We have all ready discussed how silver symbolizes the Word, i.e., when silver appears on a Christmas tree, it illustrates how that soul has lived out the Gospel, the Word of Christ. Gold is the most valuable metal there is, and the only gift worthy to give a king, as in the King of Kings. Gold does not tarnish, and neither does the acts of selfless love made by the saints for their brethren. When we see Christmas lights on houses at night during the winter, it's a beautiful sight, because the lights shining in the darkness are what Christians are meant to be in the world: the Lights of Truth in the darkness of sin. If there is no light in you, there is no truth, and that is because there is only sin. That is like a Christmas tree that has no decorations, a soul that has not adorned itself with the acts of virtue and sacrifices of love.
On another note, why does Santa live in "the only castle on the left?" The castle symbolizes the many mansions which Christ speaks of awaiting us in heaven: Santa's castle illustrates how he is all ready being rewarded by God for his sacrifices. That it is the "only castle" is because the true Christian life of sacrifice and meditation is a lonely one and very few who are called to it accept that call and advance in the way of the Cross. 
Next, Sam takes us to the spring before the big snow storm we saw at the beginning, when Rudolph is born. Rudolph is the son of Donnor, which means "to give," but we shouldn't think of Donner "giving Rudolph the false nose" rather, that he will be willing to give his life for his son when the time comes (and that Donnor isn't willing to give Santa a "deformed" reindeer, his pride stands in the way). The name Rudolph means "famous wolf" and we'll discuss this later, but for right now, let's talk about why he has a shiny red nose.
The face symbolizes our identities, who we are and who people recognize when they recognize "you." The nose, being the most prominent feature of a person's face, symbolizes the person's character. Red symbolizes blood: either we love someone so much that we are willing to spill our red blood to save them (as in Rudolph leaving his family to spare them the problems of his non-conformity, so he leaves them and faces possible death [in living on his own] and then again when Rudolph leaves Hermey and Yukon to face the AS alone, even though it means certain death; on the other side, Donnor willing to go find Rudolph shows Donnor's love for his son, as well as his mother, Clarice, Hermey and Yukon, all willing to risk their lives to find and save Rudolph and bring him back home; likewise, Santa's red coat illustrates the danger Santa willing goes through each Christmas to deliver toys and cheer all over the world as well as the daily spiritual battles Santa fights so he can be Santa to the world). On the other hand, when red is a bad symbol, it's because we are willing to spill the blood of another to appease our appetite of wrath against them. So, we can say that Rudolph has a character (his nose) that is made to love (the red nose) and be a beacon of that love for all to see (why the nose glows red like fire). Why is such a big deal made that "it even glows?" Because that is what our love for God is meant to do: not just be there, like the false black nose of Rudolph's, but glow like the lights at Christmas. Changing gears just a bit, when Santa enters this scene, Santa actually changes his symbolic role: generally speaking, "Santa" is St. Nicholas, the athlete of God who meditates upon God and worships him day and night in all he does, thinks and feels; "Santa" as Santa Claus becomes a worldly symbol, as in this scene of social ambition to join Santa's sleigh team. Let's pause a moment: the world is a good place because God created the wold and all within it; however, because of Original Sin, we abuse the world and things in the world, which is usually what animals (in this case, reindeer) symbolize: our animal appetites, appetites that we develop that cause us to live like animals without souls, rather than the children of God who are made in His image and have eternal life. Because the reindeer are animals, they spiritually symbolize the appetites of Santa, all the temptations which he had to overcome in order to become holy, all the desires that separated him from God and doing God's will, but appetites he has conquered and now use for the glory of God (which is why they can fly: if an appetite is bound by the lusts and desires of the earth, it's bound to the earth; if it has been given to God and purged of earthly desires and ambitions, than it can do whatever God wants it to do, because now it will serve Him and give Him glory). This is the real message of Christmas, however, when people want to take "Christ" our of "Christmas," they are silencing the message, just like Donnor putting the "false" nose on Rudolph to cover up the light of God's love glowing for all the world to see: just as Rudolph can't talk with the false nose on, neither can the real message of Christmas get through to us when we deny the reason for the season, and try to ignore the spiritual message Christmas sends, that of penance, salvation and hope.
The nose is an integral part of our face; changing a persons nose can change their entire identity. We know that Rudolph will become famous because of his nose, but right now, his father is ashamed of it and his mother will "overlook it." Rudolph's red nose is a gift from God: it's a gift to Rudolph and a gift to the world, and that's how we have to examine our own gifts. Our gifts are as much a part of our identities as Rudolph's nose is a part of his face, because God gave it to us individually and singularly, making us special. The more special the gift, the more mis-understood it is likely to be and the more difficult the challenges in understanding how God wants us to use our gifts to glorify Him, but that's the whole point of the film. The second aspect of Rudolph's nose glowing is that it reminds us of how we are to pray: our prayers should be a pleasing fragrance to God. Because of television, it's difficult to communicate the sensory of "smell," but our prayers should be like incense, a pleasing fragrance that is offered to God alone because He is God. Lastly, Rudolph's nose is red because red is the color of love, and in love he will suffer and become triumphant for the good of all (it could have been a blue nose, or just clear, or even green . . .  but it's red for a reason).
A child is born,. . . well, not exactly a child. It's not just that the nose is shiny, as Donnor points out, but it glows, and that light which causes it to glow comes from the Holy Spirit, the presence of God dwelling within our souls. That is the light which compels us to fight the darkness of evil and the cold of the blizzards in the world. God all ready knows the 12 days of blizzards and coldness that will be coming upon the world to "nearly stop Christmas," but before the problem happens, God sends the answer, the solution: Rudolph. How does Rudolph know "Papa" and "Mama" without the words having been taught to him? Rudolph is "gifted," he has been blessed with an innate understanding about love: love for his father, mother and Santa, the saint of God, because Rudolph's purpose is to serve God (Rudolph has to be taught how to find food and fight, but he's gifted in not needing to be taught what love is or who he is meant to love). Far from being a burden or embarrassment to Santa, God sends Rudolph to Santa as a reward for Santa's own good work in the world: because Christmas brings cheer and the light of hope to people because of Santa, God has sent a light of cheer to Santa.
Santa sings a cute little song about "jingle, jingle, jingle," why? Because bells are blessed. When the bells ring, they drive demons away (especially those bells that have been blessed by a priest) because bells are consecrated to God. "You will hear my sleigh bells ring," means that, as Santa approaches, the bells drive any and all demons away, so all the darkness is dispelled and the light of joy and hope can enter the souls of those who are to receive God's blessings. Santa's bells are blessed because they are attached to the reindeer which symbolize his appetites that he has conquered, so because Santa has conquered his own "demons" in the form of appetites, he can help us conquer our demons as well.
There are two things which Donnor teaches Rudolph. First, to hide his nose, his "non-conformity" as Sam puts it. Secondly, Donnor teaches Rudolph about hiding from the Abominable Snowman; as we'll see, it's understanding his nose (as a gift) that will help Rudolph defeat the Abominable Snowman; as a "snowman" we might think that he's like Sam, but there are two symbolisms to the color "white": there is faith, purity and innocence and then white can also symbolize death (because a corpse turns white in decay) and this is what the Abominable Snowman is to Rudolph: death in not understanding his nose. It's not that the A.S. will eat Rudolph but what he represents--that Rudolph's nose makes him a misfit and he should be ashamed of himself--will "eat away" at Rudolph's soul (if reindeer had souls). Donnor, not having any idea what his son will really be called to do (being on Santa's sleigh team is an earthly goal at this point) can't truly help his son with what needs to be done because Donnor has never been through these trials himself.
We all want to be something and Hermey wants to be a dentist. The question is, why does the world need a dentist? Of all the things Hermey could have wanted to be, why a dentist? Because the appetites of the world have eaten away at our souls. The cold blizzards seen at the start of the film happen because people have appetites for "worldly" things, but no appetites for the things of eternity and of God: we hunger for happiness, not for holiness
If Rudolph provides us with the example of the pressure of expectation from our parents, Hermey the elf gives us the pressure from social convention and class. This is the famous question which we ask of God: "Why me?" I'm an elf, Hermey might say, why do I have to want to be a dentist? Why can't I enjoy making toys like everyone else? If the Lord didn't put impossible obstacles in our path, we would not know that our destiny came from Him and was being directed by Him. People like Donnor, who are good at something socially desirable, have the benefit of not having to struggle like Rudolph will, but he also looses out on not getting to become what Rudolph will become, the most famous reindeer, because Donnor doesn't have the gift, nor will he have the battle. When Hermey refuses to go to "elf practice" (equivalent to reindeer games) note that he escapes through the window, i.e. self reflection not that he won't fit in, but that what he wants to do is what he has to do.
Part of reindeer games is not take off or self-defense with the antlers, rather, the random game of deciding who is in favor and who will be a part of "society," the game of determining the "pecking order," so to speak, and in this game, Rudolph is the biggest loser.
When Rudolph meets Clarice, it's important: Clarice knows without anyone telling her that there is something about Rudolph's nose that's different, and this validation she gives him is like the first encounter we have with God when He "calls us by name," that name that He and He alone knows, the name of our deepest being which pertains to our unique destiny. The "takeoff" Rudolph has is like the leap of faith, the lightness of our hearts when we know God, and we know that He is with us, but it isn't long before the trails and sufferings begin, when we have to prove ourselves to Him. Part of that trial is the "exile" which occurs so often in the Old Testament, and we have to go off and experience the Wilderness. For now, Rudolph has to experience ostracization and shame and, above all, make a decision about who he is and what he is.
The proof that we can trust this line of interpretation is the song Clarice sings, There's Always Tomorrow, time for our dreams to come true, because our dream is the language of the Holy Spirit calling us to fulfill whatever it is we were created to do. The great thing about this point in Rudolph's trials are how his friends help him (note the red bow Clarice wears, it shows that she's "governed by love" since it's on her head); the inspiring and encouraging of Clarice, Hermey, Yukon an the Island of Misfit Toys is the "salt" of preserving what we know in our hearts is true, but we forget, and having someone there to remind us is being the salt of the earth and giving salt to another because salt is essential for life and for the spiritual life.
Don't be too upset with Clarice's dad in forbidding her seeing Rudolph, it's part of the growing cycle: the coming and going of friends is like the tide and, in the spiritual life, there must be periods of solitude otherwise the real self can't grow as it must. There is a fine balance, illustrated with Hermey and Rudolph meeting: Hermey literally teaches Rudolph the "language of the soul, and spiritual trials" and that's why they can "be independent together," but Hermey isn't called to the greater height that Rudolph is called to, but he's a good companion for now and can help Rudolph on the way, teaching him what he knows until Rudolph will need that greatest of teachers, the Wilderness, as Christ went, called by the Spirit before his Baptism.
The trials of the Spirit prove daunting even the first night when the Abominable Snowman comes for them and in the spiritual life, that's what it's about. Why is the A.S. attracted to Rudolph's nose? Because that's the light of Christ shining (well, in a figurative way) and evil will do whatever it can to destroy that Light within us and keep us from passing it on to others. Christ, on the other hand, does everything necessary to foster the growth of that Light and to make it burn strong and bright. It's fitting that we now meet Yukon Cornelius because his characteristics will help us understand what it is that is so special about Rudolph. Please note that when Yukon first meets Rudolph and Hermey, they are half-buried in snow, meaning, they have buried themselves in their own problems. "That's how you get frost-bitten," he tells them: he's right, because when we bury ourselves in our cold souls and don't seek the Grace of God, the cold bites us and takes away our ability to feel.
Yukon Cornelius' motivations in life are about as suitable to a human being as his team of dogs are suitable for pulling a sled. We should all be searching for silver and gold, but not the earthly elements which Yukon searches for, rather the spiritual elements. In my post The Bright Autumn Moon: The Wolf Man, I discussed how in Hebrew the word for "word" sounds like silver, and the Word made Incarnate, Jesus Christ, is thereby depicted in silver on the Crucifix and that's why something of silver is the only thing that can kill a werewolf. But in terms of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Christmas tree is a symbol of our soul, and in the song Silver and Gold, the silver is the Word of God that we hear and the gold is the acts of selfless love which we make that decorates our souls, just like ornaments on a tree. It's the purification of this gold that is the work of the Spirit because gold is the most precious thing on earth, but it is Love that makes us most like God, so to "refine" our love is to perform works of love, and that is the gold we must all strive for, not like Yukon who searches for rocks.
They're really on their way, now. Why can't the A.S. swim? Water is sacramental, so the A.S. not being able to swim is consistent with nothing evil being able to pass through pure/running water because water is the element of the Spirit.
Why does Yukon throw up his pick and taste it all the time?
It emphasizes his appetites and what he really wants out of life, riches. That doesn't make Yukon bad, it just doesn't make him able to understand what Rudolph is going through and--while Yukon will be the best friend he can be--he won't be able to help Rudolph and that's why Rudolph will end up leaving them. When they land on the Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph and Hermey are literally brought into communion with others like them, others who don't know their purpose, but know they want to bring happiness to someone. As King Moonraiser points out, Rudolph and Hermey are living, not toys, and the Creator has a separate purpose for them. Rudolph has realized that his nose (his gift) is going to lead the Abominable Snowman to them, and he doesn't want to endanger their lives, but he doesn't understand what gifts are so he won't' let them help him either. This is the way God calls us--not really away from others--but closer to Himself.
Why is it that Rudolph sets out just as the "storm of storms" hits?
The storm is a gift, like his nose, because without the trials that hit us, we wouldn't know how strong we are nor the strength God is willing to give us to get through the trials. Of course, we would just rather that we didn't have trials, but on this side of heaven there is no avoiding them, so the storm is sent because, without the storm and the darkness it brings, Rudolph's gift would never be realized. Why does Rudolph have to go into the Wilderness to learn about himself? In the Wilderness there is no place to hide. There is you and everything lurking in you. When Rudolph has grown and realizes he needs to go back to his family, to Christmas Town, he has defeated the Abominable Snowman that has been "eating at him" all this time; Rudolph has finally grown enough to know that none of that makes a difference and there are more important things. How does Rudolph know to go to the cave of the Abominable Snowman? Because you learn about evil in the Wilderness, you learn where and how it hides and how it tries to deceive you; knowing these tricks, Rudolph thinks he's ready to save others (as he himself has been saved) but like Luke Skywalker, he doesn't quite know everything and has to depend on others to bail him out.
But others bailing us out is part of God's plan, too. God doesn't give all His gifts to just one person, but allows us to help each other using our gifts, each at the right time. And that's why Hermey is a dentist, to remove the "bite" from the Abominable Snowman so he can't hurt anyone anymore. Why does the Abominable Snowman want a "pork dinner?" Pig is an unclean animal, so one unclean animal desires another, and that's why reindeer with the gift of flight, aren't as pleasing as the pork dinner. That craving for uncleanliness is also the reason why he can be led to the "mouth" of the cave (emphasizing the appetites) and it's the man of appetites (Yukon) who knows the animal of appetites (but they both go over the ledge together). Hermey, in being able to remove the A.S.'s teeth, removes the bite, as I said, from the damage he can do and also realizes his own gifts in the process. This is part of our gifts and how we know they are from God: each gift, in its own way, helps to save others. It may not be the way a doctor or fireman saves lives, or a police officer or the military, but you know a tree by the fruit it bears, and Hermey's has helped to save others in more ways than one.
What do they do when they get back to Christmas Town?
They tell "the story" of what has happened to them, and it is in the form of a story that the others realize how wrong they were (but it was the hand of God allowing it so He could bring good from it, but that doesn't excuse us when we have failed to treat someone with love). When Yukon and the A.S. come into Christmas Town, it seems odd that "Bumbles bounce," but it's true: even that which has done evil can be reformed and "bounce back" from their old ways into new, reformed ways. It is, after all, fitting because the greatest sinners deserve the greatest mercy and glorify the Lord the most, and that's why the A.S. puts the star atop the tree, the image of the soul and the star of Bethlehem to which he owes the mercy God has shown him, like Ebenezer Scrooge, for example.
What is the importance of leading Santa's sleigh?
The sleigh, in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is the vehicle of God's good works, which we are all called to contribute to; the ones who have been spiritually prepared for the difficult times facing us on earth are the ones using their gifts to bring gifts (love and the sacraments) to the rest of Christ's flock, and also to help others realize and use their gifts for God's glory and their own self-fulfillment. Above all, that storm, as I discussed in the beginning, is the storm of coldness which freezes our hearts against God and so it takes someone truly devoted (such as a saint) to let their light shine brightly and with the warmth of love to melt the blizzards of hardened hearts.
Why is it important that the Misfit Toys find homes?
It's the sign of God's hand in everything that everything has a purpose and a reason, and nothing is wasted in the Divine Plan, even a toy. No matter how insignificant something is, or how significant, everything has the attention of the Divine Author and has been accounted for in His Heart. We don't understand, but that is where faith comes in, and when we are short on our own faith, the Lord will send someone like Yukon or Hermey to help our faith, and at some point He will send us to help someone in their faith.
How does Rudolph become his name, "famous wolf?"
Rudolph is overcoming the wolf, the devil inside himself that keeps him from becoming what God wants him to be (symbolized by the Abominable Snowman). It's like the way St. Michael the archangel received his name, when he cast Satan into hell and cried out "Who compares to God?" (which is what Michael means in Hebrew) and, just as a wolf eats deer, but that is what Rudolph is named for, so we must remember that the devil would eat us, but we must overcome his attacks constantly, and this 1964 children's story of Christmas is a wonderful way to remind us how to do that.