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.