How Do Reindeer Fly?

#Day 22 How Do Reindeer Fly? Santa's Reindeer in snow on white background real

As a kid at Christmastime, reindeer were right up there with Santa himself. I was never likely to get a glimpse of the Big Guy on Christmas Eve, as I was firmly instructed by my parents to stay in my bed until morning. But reindeer pulled the sleigh with all the toys, because of their magical ability to fly, and I knew if I listened hard enough, I might just hear them on the roof. Back then, I remember looking up photos of actual reindeer in my trusty encyclopedia, that rarely updated, dusty book reference that existed in the dark ages before Wikipedia. Upon seeing a photo of one, I was immediately skeptical. Real reindeer were huge and looked a bit clumsy. I set about trying to determine how this flying thing might actually happen. Not to disprove the notion, of course, I was still a child so I hadn’t lost that wonderful urge to believe in magic. No, I wanted more than anything to prove that it was actually possible. And so my investigation began.

In truth, there were very little facts to work with. The poem, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas mentioned there were eight reindeer and called them by name, but didn’t move on to explain the flying bit. Just before their names are called, however, was a rather odd description. They were apparently “tiny reindeer,” which I thought might make them lighter and therefore able to fly easier. Now we were getting somewhere! Also, Rudolph which was perhaps the most famous reindeer of all wasn’t discovered until much later. In his holiday television special, he is really quite small, but then again, Santa Claus was weirdly small in that as well. I knew that those chubby department store Santas were not the real deal. I wasn’t stupid. Those were stand-ins hired by Santa because he was far too busy overseeing the preparation of my gifts to be warming a seat all day in Macy’s listening to hundreds of kids tell him what he already knew.  The letters had already been sent, after all, so that visit was really just for the photo.

With all of my evidence in hand, I joyfully realized that size really does matter and I had my answer! The secret to the entire operation was that Santa and his reindeer were impossibly small. So small, in fact, that they were roughly the size of ants, maybe smaller, I wasn’t entirely sure on that part. This allowed the entire group to basically just catch a strong winter breeze and float through the sky. The gifts they delivered arrived in microscopic miniature as well and then magically grew to their appropriate size by morning. This also easily explained why Santa and his reindeer had never actually been spotted and photographed. I was thrilled at my discovery back then, but today it seems rather silly to be sure. Now, of course, I realize all those wondrous things happened, simply because I believed that they could. Sometimes, I miss those days when even my most skeptical questions had magical answers. Back in that amazing time when I used to know for certain just how reindeer were able to fly.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Sennelier Red, Quinacridone Gold, Phthalo. Green Light, Ultramarine Deep, Burnt Sienna and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 #Day 22 How Do Reindeer Fly? Santa's Reindeer in snow on white background real
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!
33 Comments
  1. I thought the magic of flight was hidden in that famous red nose….there must be a link, it can’t be a coincidence??

  2. Jodi 5 months ago

    What a GORGEOUS Reindeer!!!!! and love your crazy thoughts!!! You are one of a kind Charlie O!

  3. Carol 5 months ago

    Such a handsome reindeer, Charlie! According to The Year Without A Santa Claus, the reindeer could fly if they ate magic corn. That was enough for my young brain. I saw it on TV so it had to be true, right? Christmas magic is a wonderful thing! 🎄🎅🏼

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Carol!! 😃💕 For some reason this comment didn’t show up in my WP Reader. Hehe… Yep… Magic corn is such wonderful explanation. Love Christmas Magic!!! Hope yours was magical this year!

  4. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    A wonderful explanation of Santa and reindeer secrets! Perhaps your adult “realization” is the silly part. Warmest of wishes for the holiday season to you and yours!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Sharon!! 😃💕 I totally think that most of my adult realizations are the real silly part!! hehe… kids are way wiser! 😉 Hope you have a wonderful holiday season as well!

  5. jmnowak 5 months ago

    I used to think the antlers had hidden webbing, like the flying fox, that they opened after they took off. And they moved their legs too, like when you swim, to give that extra push. After all, they were carrying a lot of cargo and a long way to go all around the world, in one night no less! I still believe that happens! 🙂 Sweet reindeer, Charlie!

  6. […] How Do Reindeer Fly? […]

  7. Pradita Chandola 5 months ago

    You’re right! Santa and his reindeer had to be small. How else could science ever reconcile with the idea of a flying gift-bearer. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece on childlike wonder and it’s innocence.

  8. Jill Kuhn 5 months ago

    Fantastic reindeer, Charlie!! 🎨👍 And love its shadow in the snow!! ❄️💙🎄 I was going to paint a reindeer fish today but ran out of time… I enjoyed your post too! 😃 It makes perfect sense!! Lol! 😉

    • Author

      Hehe!! Thanks, Jill! 😃💕 Yep! Super tiny… still can’t step on an ant in summer for fear it might be santa and friends on vacation. 😊 lol

      • Jill Kuhn 5 months ago

        Lol!! Thanks for the giggle!! 😄

  9. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 5 months ago

    Charlie, your reindeer painting is magical, and maybe that’s where the magic begins – in believing so much that anything can happen, from pictures of wonderment to gifting till your credit card breaks to eating till your tummy pops. I love your story about how you figured it all out when you were Little Charlie, wide awake in your bed, listening for Santa’s sleigh to alight on your roof and slide down the chimney.

    Let us hope for magic and love for this season, no matter what holiday we celebrate – it is certainly needed.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Hehe… I still sort of think like this actually. I’m not sure Little Charlie is ever very far away, especially this time of year! And yes to magic and love, whatever the season!

  10. What a lovely picture: not just the one you’ve painted, but little Charlie looking in his encyclopedia and trying to work out how reindeer could fly, and then rationalising the Santas in every store by deciding they were just there for the photographs. The child is certainly father to the man in your case – thankfully for all of us who follow your blog. Happy Christmas to you both!

  11. memadtwo 5 months ago

    I like your theory (and your painting) Charlie. Sensible magic!
    Have a wonderful Christmas! Thanks for all your stories and paintings. Looking forward to a whole new crop in 2017. (K)

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 Can’t thank you enough for all of your kind words and encouragement! It really helps keep me motivated to keep going. Here’s a fabulous 2017 for all!!

  12. Laura (PA Pict) 5 months ago

    Fabulous painting, Charlie! Really wonderful. I loved reading about your thought processes as a child.

  13. Ellie 5 months ago

    First of all, your reindeer painting is awesome! But your explanation of the micro-sized Santa and reindeer and gifts that grow to the right size by Christmas morning is brilliant. You were, undoubtedly, a remarkable child, Charlie.

    • Author

      Awww thanks, Ellie! 😃💕 I was an unusual child to be sure. My mother always said I was a handful as a child and sometimes she wanted to trade me in for two dumb ones instead. She was kidding of course… I think. 😊hehe

      • Ellie 5 months ago

        Umm….yeah. She was just kidding….. ( :

  14. Tom Merriman 5 months ago

    That’s a proper reindeer, Charlie! And of course they can fly… I’ve been on one! 😀 Oh yes!
    I’ve pre-prepared the rest of the comment, initially to save a little time, but it’s just made things take a little longer. Ah well…! 😀
    My visiting, replying, commenting and the like have fallen a little by the wayside of late, for which I apologise, but wanted to call by today and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    • Author

      Wait… I’m now just seething with jealousy that you’ve ridden a reindeer and can’t think of anything else! 😉LOL Too fun! Thank you so much my friend!! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year as well.

      • Tom Merriman 5 months ago

        Haha! 😀 Sorry to make you seethe, Charlie! 😉 Have a magical time.

  15. tutleymutley 5 months ago

    Love the teeny tiny reindeer with the big feet to prevent sinkage in the snow and the Sami type gear! More food for thought: https://gathervictoria.com/2014/12/04/doe-a-deer-a-female-deer-the-spirit-of-mother-christmas/ I knew Rudolph was female but didn’t know the stuff about mother Chrimble. Happy New Year from Bangkok, Charlie and Philippe.

    • Author

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 And wow! Thanks for the link… that’s really interesting!! A very happy New Year to you and yours!

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