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.
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!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!