The Reindeer That Wasn't

by Christine Morgan

The convention was held
At the North Pole that year.
The guests and attendees
Came from far and from near.
Santa Claus and Jack Frost,
The soft Easter Bunny,
The cute little fairy
Who swaps teeth for money.
The bad ones came also.
Yes, they all sure were there.
Some spiny-backed implings
Who tie tangles in hair,
The fat sock-eating troll
Who lives in your dryer,
One who hides the remote
And chews the phone wire.
Can't you just imagine
The things that they discussed?
Panels and seminars
About you, me, and us.
And they finished it off
With a black-tie affair.
Nice gowns and tuxedos
Are the things they did wear.
The stork, who delivers
Little babies to all,
Was excited to be
At so fancy a ball.
He was proud of his job
And he just had to brag
About the new baby
He had snug in his bag.
He had in his bundle
Only one egg, no more.
A gigantic red egg.
And guess who it was for?
A family of dragons
Who lived in a gold nest
On Great Sunset Mountain
Far away to the west.
The stork, he drank cider
And eggnog with nutmeg.
And when he departed
At Santa's stayed the egg.
It was there on the floor
Underneath the stork's chair.
And lay all unnoticed
'Til an elf saw it there.
Mistletoe and Holly
Were cleaning up the room.
And Holly bumped the egg
With the end of her broom.
"Mistletoe, look at this,"
Holly said in surprise.
"This can't be a bird's egg,
Why, just look at the size!"
"Well, it's some sort of egg,"
The elf Mistletoe said.
"We can't leave it here, though,
Take it out to the shed."
"Oh, we can't just do that,"
Holly said. "Oh, no way!
This poor egg needs a nest
And a nest's made of hay!"
So both of the elves took
The egg to the stable
And made it a nest there
As best they were able.
Now, the stable, you see,
Was the home of the deer.
Santa's sleigh team, who pull
His sleigh every year.
It happened that Comet
Had the stall right below
The spot in the loft where
The egg happened to go.
And it happened the egg
Got bigger and bigger
Until it broke through that
Loft thingamajigger.
Down came the egg with a
Really really loud crash.
It just missed poor Comet
And the shell, it went SMASH!
Something fell out of it --
Something red did appear --
"Good heavens, what is that?"
Cried all Santa's reindeer.
"It's some sort of red bug,"
Comet answered in shock,
"It's trying to get up,
And it's trying to walk."
The wings, they did flap and
The head did wave about.
Then it opened its mouth
And a big flame came out.
It looked up at Comet
With its big golden eyes
As he stamped out the fire
And looked down in surprise.
"Mama?" the creature said.
"Mama! Mama!" it cried.
The other deer went, "Awwww!"
"Oh, no, no," Comet sighed.
"You can't keep that red bug,"
Blitzen said with a sneer.
"Why, everyone will see
He's not even a deer!
He's ugly, and smelly,
And dangerous, to boot!"
"We can fix that, I'm sure,"
Vixen said. "He's so cute!"
"Just how could we fix it?"
Comet asked. "Blitzen's right.
There's no way he'll fit in;
He'll give all such a fright!"
"I think we can do it,"
Vixen said. "Watch, you'll see.
Redbug will be just fine.
Leave everything to me."
"There's some branches outside
Growing out of the snow.
We'll tie them to his head
And then no one will know!"
So they broke off some sticks
And Donner found some thread
To tie the fake antlers
On top of Redbug's head.
For his legs, head, and tail
They tore holes in a sack
Which kept his wings folded
Down tight against his back.
They gave him a corncob,
Tried to get him to eat.
His breath made it popcorn,
Which the deer thought a treat.
It was hard for Redbug
To get used to the snow;
It melted beneath him
Everywhere he did go.
The deer tried to teach him
All the things reindeer did
And when the elves came by
They made sure Redbug hid.
Redbug followed Comet,
His mother, he thought
And tried hard to please,
Even though he was not.
Soon the rest of the team
Liked having Redbug near.
He kept the stable warm,
And thought he was a deer.
But at last the day came
When it was time to fly.
"I don't know," Blitzen said,
After watching him try.
"He can't seem to do it.
Some things just can't be taught.
He may think he's a deer
But remember, he's not."
"He can fly!" Comet said.
"I just know that he can!
Come on, Redbug!" he called
As toward the cliff he ran.
"Follow me, son!" he said.
"I'll show you what to do!"
And when Comet jumped off,
Well, Redbug jumped off too.
Now, Comet was a deer
And he knew how to fly
So he went straight on up
In the frosty blue sky.
But Redbug fell straight down
And he cried out in fear,
Because, after all, he
Just thought he was a deer.
"See, what did I tell you?
You can't teach some things!"
Blitzen started to yell --
And then out burst the wings.
Redbug's great big red wings.
They split apart the sack
And he flew through the air
With the wings on his back.
His fake antlers fell off,
And the sack tore to shreds,
Showing off his bright scales
As he flew overhead.
He soared in a circle,
He blew his firey breath,
All the elves who saw him
Were frightened half to death.
The deer didn't notice.
They were too glad to see
That Redbug was flying
As nice as could be.
They cheered and they whistled
They shouted out his name
They flew up to join him
In a fun reindeer game
The workshop door opened
And Santa Claus came out.
Wondering what all the
Noisy fuss was about.
"Good heavens," Santa said.
"Oh, my, what have we here?
Could this be a dragon
Who thinks that he's a deer?"
"A dragon!" said Comet.
"Is that what Redbug is?
He needed a mother
And thought that I was his!
Please don't be mad, Santa.
We just wanted to try
To teach him to do it,
To teach him how to fly."
"I'm not mad," Santa said,
"But I'm sorry to say
We can't keep a dragon.
We just can't let him stay.
He needs his own family,
To be with his own kind.
And to be where it's warm.
I hope you all don't mind."
"Oh, Santa!" the deer cried,
"Please don't send him away!
He's like one of us now.
Please, won't you let him stay?"
They crowded around him,
They begged and they pleaded,
They promised to do all
The things Redbug needed.
But Redbug knew better.
He knew Santa was right.
The snow and the ice and
The bitter Arctic night
Were no place for dragons.
Now he knew he was one
Whose home was far away
In the land of the sun.
He dreamed of the deserts
And the hot golden sands
And the mountains that rose
In the far Western lands.
He knew where he belonged.
He knew he had to go.
He looked down at Comet,
And Comet said, "I know."
"I wish there was some way
You could be happy here.
I still think you would have
Made a heck of a deer.
We'll never forget you;
We'll always remember.
And you'll see us each year
One night in December."
So Redbug the dragon
Said all of his goodbyes.
And he flew far away
To the warm Southern skies.
And wherever he went
With his flame burning bright,
People thought he was a
Comet, lighting the night.
So, if you see something
Way way up in the sky,
At the wrong time of year
For a sleigh passing by,
Don't hide under your bed.
You've got nothing to fear.
It's Redbug the dragon
Who thought he was a deer.

Copyright 1997 Christine Morgan