I grew up with the Rankin/Bass produced TV Christmas specials and with as many advances as I’ve seen in technology, nothing new in the Christmas special offerings can hold a candle to those first programs. One of my favorites was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
As a little girl I didn’t appreciate Rudolph’s entire story. In fact, I remember being indignant that the “Dad” reindeer, Blitzen I think it was, insisted Rudolph hide his nose and look like everyone else. Back then I was for the underdog, even when it was a cartoon. When a cheerleader mocked my shy friend, I couldn’t resist putting wads of paper in her shoes when she wasn’t looking. Did I mention the cheerleader was still wearing the shoes?
A quarter-century later, I’m still watching Rudolph. I’m not angry when I watch because there is something kindred in the characters I never paid much attention to the first time around. A band of toys that never see prime-time eye-level shelf space at Toys R Us—the misfit toys.
The toys live— where else—but on Misfit Island. Charlie-in-The-Box doesn’t just have the wrong name, but he’s an introvert. He’s most comfortable inside the box.
Spotted Elephant isn’t attractive like Barbie’s beloved horses the girls put on their Christmas lists.
“A Dolly for Sue” isn’t the model doll named above so she has a low esteem.
Bird Fish doesn’t fly, he swims.
The cowboy rides into the sunset on his ostrich.
Trainer doesn’t look like his famous train relative, Thomas. Why Trainer has square wheels on his last car.
The toy boat sinks.
The squirt gun is full of grape jelly.
The airplane can’t fly.
And then there is the scooter for Jimmy.
With adult eyes these misfit toys give me the permission to embrace the unique things that make me, me. I think even if I didn’t write I’d still be a Charlie-in-the-Box. My energy comes from peace and quiet, not crowds.
I want to hold “A Dolly for Sue” and tell her how beautiful she is. She’s made of quality stuff meant to last, not cheap plastic that will break at the first sign of distress. Our daughter taught me when she was three months old that God knew what He was doing when He chose parents for children with special needs. What I thought was a label was an open door to ministry that blows my mind every time my daughter smiles and engages with others. Isn’t that like Bird Fish who looks like one thing, yet acts like another?
While I watched these supposed throwaway toys I found such revelation, more than Rankin/Bass probably ever planned on. The biggest eye-opener of all was the island ruler, King Moonracer. Like C.S. Lewis with Narnia, this lion symbolizes wisdom and love. King Moonracer flies each night around the world to rescue the unwanted toys. He lives in a castle on top of a hill, kind of a heavenly place, and has final say on who is able to stay on Misfit Island.
Okay, maybe I’m reading things too deep to see traces of heaven and the Gospel as an allegory in Rudolph with his friends, the Misfit Toys.
But, maybe not.
What I can say is I never felt I belonged, not when I was a chubby little girl that never wanted to be a cheerleader or as an insecure college girl that could have cared less to try to be a sorority sister. Living in my box and staying isolated was my happy place. It still is. Those misfit toys helped me understand I’m not like everyone else, and it’s okay.
I learned I’m not alone. While watching Rudolph I also had Tweetdeck enabled and tweet after tweet popped up talking about not the reindeer, not the elf rebelling against the denistry, not the reindeer’s peer pleasing dad, but the misfit toys. When I shared how much I related, others tweeted they felt the same. They embraced the same misfit call on their life.
Is today the day you do the same?
Surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate
*Some of my Misfit Toy information came from Wikipedia.