Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Story

I posted this story last year. It's my very favorite. Enjoy, and if you've read it before, enjoy it again.

A guy named Bob May, depressed and brokenhearted, stared out his drafty

apartment window into the chilly December night. His 4-year-old

daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bobs wife, Evelyn,

was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy

could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dads eyes and asked,

"Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his

eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief but also of anger. It

was the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob. Being small

when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the

time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember.

From childhood Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. Bob did complete

college and married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter

at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little

girl. But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all

their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room

apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a

Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one--a


Bob had created the animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to

little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again Bob told the story,

embellishing it more with each telling. Who was the character? What was the story

about? The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form. The

character he created was an outcast like he was. The name of the character? A

little reindeer named Rudolph with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day.

But the story doesn't end there. The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind

of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to

print the book. Wards went on to print the book and distribute it to children

visiting Santa Claus in their stores. By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed

more than six million copies of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. That same year a

major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version

of the book. In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all

rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller. Many toy and marketing

deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from

the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn't end there. Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song

adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as

Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene Autrey. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed

Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records

than any other Christmas song with the exception of "White Christmas." The gift of

love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless

him again and again. And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend

Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a



Bella said... [Reply to comment]

Thelma, I loved the story! I had no idea that this is how the story of Rudolph came to be. And how kind and incredible that the Wards CEO returned the rights to Bob! Now that's what I call the Lord working in mysterious ways. I so enjoyed reading this post! :)

Jodi Aman said... [Reply to comment]

Have to link to this on facebook, cool story!


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