Back to the masochism – writing, that is. It’s the Agony and the Ecstasy for sure (but Irving Stone already said this… the title of his book about Michelangelo.) I vowed not to write another kids book, but a Christmas story about Santa’s reindeer being all female (male reindeer shed their antlers in winter, while females keep their antlers). Hence, all Santa’s famous reindeer are female. Except for Rudolph – he’s copyrighted (created in 1939) and the family that owns the copyright will not grant permission to use it. Kind of like Mickey Mouse, Ariel, Belle, etc. – don’t even THINK about using these characters without permission from Disney, and even if the answer is “Yes” the writer must be prepared to pay a fortune which far outweighs any real reason for using them.
But all the other reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen (created in 1910) – are part of the public domain, so I can use them in a story without having to pay for the privilege. The same reason you can sing Amazing Grace in church on Sundays (published in 1779) without your church having to pay a copyright fee.
These reindeer names are all non-gender specific, so why not be female? As for the head reindeer, I decided to call her Ruby. She’s from a Russian herd. Poor thing got lost in the Arctic so Santa adopted her. Same for Donner and Blitzen (from German for Thunder and Lightning). These two sisters got separated from their German herd. All the others have their own stories. Wait ‘til you hear about Vixen…
It’s all great fun. Since Santa chooses a different team to guide his sleigh every year, it is a great honor. This particular year of an all-female team, the male reindeer are jealous. Plus, girls will be girls… Santa’s list flies overboard so all the children receive real surprises on Christmas Day. The “reindears” all recognize their individual gifts and appreciate teamwork. Finally, the story ponders the secular reason we send holiday cards, bake cookies, have parties, sing Christmas carols, reach out to those alone. For some people the year has been a difficult one - lost loves, illness, bereavement, shattered dreams, etc. Because some people have lost their joy, it behooves the rest of us to bring peace into their hearts so that they welcome the New Year with open hearts. Nice, huh?
Check back for Chapter one of Santa’s Dears; it’s sure to get you in the Christmas spirit (or spirits…).
Sending my love to all, esp. my Beta Readers who are helping me edit Bitter Sugar. You’re the best!