Face To Face With A Reindeer

Christmas Reindeer Watercolor - Doodlewash

Though there are many icons that appear during this season, reindeer are probably my favorite. I adore animals and have adored them since I was a wee little child, so they were always the most fascinating part of the Santa story. Though reindeer certainly achieved their current fame in holiday lore from the poem Twas The Night Before Christmas (originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas, where they received names for the first time), there was an earlier story that might have started it all. Two years prior to the famous poem, William Gilley in New York published a 16-page booklet titled A New Year’s Present. In this poem we learn “Old Santeclaus with much delight, His reindeer drives this frosty night.” Heading back years earlier, Washington Irving described Santa as flying over the tops of trees in a wagon, but failed to describe exactly how that wagon was powered. I’m thrilled that authors decided to make it magical reindeer instead of magic alone. It just makes the entire story and indeed the visual more appealing. And, as a little kid waiting for the arrival of gifts, desperately straining my ears to listen for reindeer prancing on my rooftop, it remains one of my favorite childhood memories.

I also still remember the moment when I was of a certain age and began to question the very existence of Santa Claus. I was certain at one point that my parents were actually the ones putting those gifts under the tree. In a moment of triumph I confronted my mother, who, rather than admit any bit of falsehood or wrongdoing simply said, “What do you want to believe, Charlie?” I simply paused and pondered her question. Were I correct in my assumption, every bit of magic I felt over each of those seasons would only be a memory. What did I want to believe? I wanted to believe that reindeer could fly. I wanted to believe that no matter how much money our family lacked that year, dreams could actually come true. I wanted to believe that anything was possible. So, I decided in that moment to suspend my disbelief and enjoy all of the wonder that sparkles from lore. Yeah, I still had my doubts, but my imagination told me to ignore them. I learned a very valuable lesson in that moment. One that I still embrace to this day. A wonderful life isn’t made by what actually happens, but by what we simply choose to believe.

I’ve experienced a roller coaster of a life, mostly due to my constant habit of constantly chasing new ideas. For the most part, things never work out as I plan them. I have huge dreams that I try to make come true, only to have something else entirely happen instead. Were I remotely practical, I could easily consider most of my life a complete failure. Not one of my elaborate dreams has ever manifested in exactly the way I intended. But, in my crazy attempts at trying things, those crazy dreams still managed to appear in ways I never dreamed possible. So, that’s why I’ve ended up with the world’s smallest motto of “DO!” There’s little more wisdom I can hope to impart from my time on this little green planet. I don’t have a specific set of steps to explain or write about in a Google-friendly fashion. Mostly because I don’t believe there’s a single set of steps to follow. There’s simply one. DO what inspires you and makes your inner child smile. It’s only in this state that real magic can actually happen. Where all of those memories of childhood combine in a flash of sparkling light and you can finally find yourself coming face to face with a reindeer.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Quinacridone Red, Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Christmas Reindeer Watercolor Sketchbook Detail - Doodlewash

Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Sharon Nolfi 4 years ago

    Your handsome reindeer brings to mind childhood memories – grocery stores in our suburban area would bring in live reindeer as an attraction for the kids. They would be in a fenced off part of the parking lot, next to where they sold live Christmas trees. I think we paid a few cents to feed them. Wonderful times!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Sharon! 😃💕That sounds like a perfectly magical experience!! Love that! I never got to meet reindeer as a kid. That would have been awesome!

  2. smzang 4 years ago

    Charlie says, “A wonderful life isn’t made by what actually happens, but by what we simply choose to believe.”

    It is a wonderful life!

    That is a gloriously fine reindeer.

  3. smzang 4 years ago

    I hit enter too soon. woe is me…
    He looks lively and pet-able, even with that wonderful rack that says
    he has been around a good number of years and is not
    to be toyed with…I have no doubt he can pull the largest sleigh
    no matter how many toys are crammed into Santa’s bag.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      hehe! Thanks! Yeah, I hoped to give him a bit of attitude… I figured after all of those trips around the globe he deserved it! 😉

  4. Sandra Strait 4 years ago

    When I was kid, and Dad would take me behind the scenes, I’d happily feed apples to elephants, bread to bears, and throw meat treats for the lions. But I was too afraid of the reindeer to feed them anything. I was sure I’d end up an ornament flopping around on a reindeer’s horns, lol. I DO believe if I’d just fed them once, I’d have been over that quickly.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      hehe!! I DO believe that as well! 😃💕 I have to agree… those horns are a bit terrifying! lol But I’m sure you’re right. Like everything in life, when we just take the chance, everything changes for the better!

  5. Lisa 4 years ago

    I’ve been teased about my penchant for starting projects or hobbies and then quitting, giving up, or failing. But I never take it to heart because I like to try new stuff. For example, quilting√, weaving√, writing√, stained glass making√. Well you get the idea. And I love that I have done all this stuff. So often I just want to learn about something. I made one complete quilt. I’m very glad I did it, and having discovered that it isn’t a hobby that I enjoy doing, I’ll never make another. Good for me!!😀😀 All this making and doing had made me into a much more interesting person. I’m never going to be the person whose most interesting conversation is What did you think about The Wheel of Fortune last night!😁😁

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      hehe! So true, Lisa! 😃💕 We’re always more interesting based on the things we DO! Doesn’t really matter how they turn out, because simply doing them puts us well ahead of the thousands of folks who never tried it at all! 😉

  6. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 years ago

    You’re a very talented and creative person, Charlie, and your mother is brilliant! What do you want to believe? The best question ever asked – it makes everything possible.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Yeah, my mother is rather exceptional. I’ve no idea how she learned to mother in that way. But, I’m so thankful for it each and every day.

  7. Mary Roff 4 years ago

    Wonderful “Do” and believe philosophies! Wonderful reindeer too. I still remember my older cousin telling me that Santa was a myth..forgiven but not forgotten. How wise your dear Mom was in her response.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks, Mary! 😃💕 Yeah, I’ve never found a good reason to stop believing in Santa Claus. hehe The idea is just too wonderful!

  8. LoriCtoo 4 years ago

    I love what your mom said! Wise woman. Lucky for me the issue has never come up with my son. I think it never will because I still believe! 😉 I have to ask, as I study your reindeer. Do your images just come out of your head or do you look at something while sketching? Your reindeer looks real. If I were to sketch one, it would look like it came out of a child’s coloring book. Teehee!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 My mother is indeed a very wise woman. And I use references for most all of these. Either a single photo or looking at several at once. The more I sketch, the more I’m able to fill in the gaps and create something from memory.

  9. Sandra Gilbert 4 years ago

    I’m going to just believe right along with you Charlie, magic is way too much fun to let logic and reality spoil it.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      Brilliant! Love it, Sandra! 😃💕 Let’s just go on believing! It’s WAY more fun to be sure!

  10. Jacob 4 years ago

    Your reindeer looks like he suffers no fools where Santa is concerned! And, just for the record, I saw him this afternoon. His sleigh was sitting outside the supermarket in the freezing cold, and he was looking slightly cheesed off, to say the least. But it was definitely Santa.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 4 years ago

      hehe!! That’s awesome, Jacob! Love it! 😃💕 Yeah, I totally had to give my reindeer a bit of attitude. If you can fly all night long around the world, you totally earned it! And I’m more than a little jealous that you got to see Santa!! eeeek!

      • Jacob 4 years ago

        Not the first time either 😉 I first met him years ago, in his grotto, which happened to be in our local mall! I asked for a watch… and got a box of felt tip pens. I suppose I could have confronted him about this today, but with the look on his face, I’d probably have ended up with a nose redder than Rudolph!

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