Depressed and brokenhearted, a man named Bob May stared out of his drafty apartment window in to the chilling December night. His four year-old daughter, Barbara, sat on his lap quietly sobbing.
Bob’s wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara could not understand why her mother could never come home. Barbara looked up into her dad’s eyes and asked, “Why isn’t mummy just like everybody else’s mummy?”
Bob’s jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves not only of grief, but also of anger.
It had been the story of Bob’s life, which always had to be different for him.
As a child, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was frequently called names he would rather not remember.
From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in. However, Bob completed college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get a job as a copy-writer at Montgomery Ward during the great depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl.
But it was all short-lived. Evelyn’s battle with cancer stripped them of all their savings. Now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums. Evelyn passed on just days before Christmas in 1938.
Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn’t even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he could not purchase a present, he was determined to make one – a storybook.
Bob had created a character in his own mind and told the animal’s story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope. Again and again, Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling.
Who was the character? What was the story all about? The tale Bob created was his own autobiography in fable form. The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character? A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.
Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day – but the story doesn’t end there.
The general manage of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and distributed it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores.
By 1946, Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of “Rudolph”. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.
In an unprecedented gesture of Kindness, the chief executive officer of Wards returned all the rights to Bob. The book became a best seller!
Many toy and marketing deals followed. Bob, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.
But the story doesn’t end their either…………………
Bob’s brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to “Rudolph”. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene Autry, the singing cowboy.
“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of White Christmas.
The gift of love that Bob created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again.
And Bob learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different can be a blessing.
By – Geoffrey Keyte