The Reindeer who was Too Small

Once upon a time there was a little reindeer. The others called him Runt. Runt didn’t like being little, as he found the long reindeer treks too much for him, and he could not keep up. Also, he was worried about Christmas. How was he going to do all that flying? Runt had seen the huge sledge where Santa lived: how heavy it looked. And that was before it was piled high with presents. Santa was pretty heavy too. But Runt didn’t want to be left behind, and he knew that the other reindeer born his year would all be in the sledge Team: that was the way it was.
Runt thought it was his fault he was small, though he ate as much grass as he could and tried his best to grow.
“Why am I so small?” he asked his Mum.
“That’s the way it is,” she said. “But it’s not your fault, it’s mine. You were born at the wrong time.”
Reindeer don’t have birthdays like you do, but Runt did know he was the last to be born that year. You see most animals are not like us and born throughout the year: they are born at the best time of year for their survival. Yet somehow, Runt had been born late.
Some of the other reindeer teased Runt. “You’ll have to start early,” they said when there was a trek coming. But this was impossible, for Runt did not know which way to go. He could not just start, for he might get lost and separated from the herd and that would mean certain death in the wilderness… His Mum loved him, and stayed at the back of the herd. “Don’t listen to them. Try and keep up with me,” she said. Runt did try, but it was very hard and he seemed to get smaller and smaller with the effort of it all. But he was not happy, for he knew he would not be chosen to join in Santa’s Sledge Team.
Santa was not unkind. He did not know what Runt was feeling, but he did know that Runt would not be able to join the Sledge Team, even though he should really be in it as he was born that year. He talked to his Mum about it.
“I know,” she said. “But he just doesn’t seem to grow. It was true. As compared with the other reindeer, born just a couple of weeks before, Runt was getting smaller and smaller.
“It’s a pity,” said Santa. “But I don’t see what I can do. I just can’t have him. The Sledge would be unbalanced and it might topple over and spill all the presents for the children.”
“Wait a minute,” said Runt’s Mum. “I’ve had an idea. Perhaps Runt could go in the Sledge and be a present himself! I could decorate him with holly and bits of snow….”
“But do you want to give him away?”
“He won’t survive the winter with us, will he?” said Runt’s Mum. “It’s his only chance.”
They both knew it was true. Runt’s Mum told him what was going to happen. Runt did not like the sound of it. Who would want to be separated from their family? (the herd was Runt’s family, really). But he had no choice. A day before Christmas, Runt’s Mum dressed him up smartly with decorations, and took him to Santa.
Santa looked at him. “Hm,” he said. “well, we’ll give it a go.”
“You’re in luck,” Santa’s Mum said to him. “You’re going to see the world, but you won’t have to do any of the work!” Then she turned her head away, for her eyes filled with tears and she did not want Runt to see them. She knew that unlike all the other reindeer, her Runt would not be coming back….
On Christmas Eve, there were tremendous preparations. The packing had to be done! It was worse than going on holiday, for the none of the presents could be left behind, and each present had to be properly placed in the Sledge or it might fall off. And this year there was less room than usual, for Runt had to go in the Sledge as well as the presents!
“It’s no good,” said Santa, “we’ll just have to have two Sledges this year. You, “he said to a pair of older reindeer browsing nearby, “you will have to be in charge of the second Sledge. We must load that up now!”
Finally, they were ready to go and both sledges flew off with all the presents. Runt had no arms, so he couldn’t hang on, but he was tightly wedged in and quite safe. They soared above the world which looked very different and even more beautiful from the sky. But Runt was rather heavy, and Santa could see that the Sledge he was in would soon fall behind and the reindeer team would not be able to fly with Runt much longer.
“First stop!” Santa called out. Far down below there was a little village in a valley. There was less snow than on the hills, but still enough for the reindeer to land safely, which they did.
“You,” said Santa to Runt, “are very important, and you are going to be the very first present. I know the children in that house, and they will look after you. The family hasn’t much money but the children will give you hay and you will be fine.”
“I’m not going down the chimney,” said Runt.
“No, no. I will put you in the garden. You must stay there until the children find you in the morning. I can’t wait, as I have to do the deliveries.”
So Runt got put in the garden, and Santa flew off with his Sledge. A little boy tucked up in the cottage heard something, and woke his sister.
“Shh… there’s something out there. Let’s try to open the shutters.” The shutters were wooden and heavy and thick to keep the cold out. And both children had to work together to open them. When they looked out of the window, they saw Runt down below, and Runt saw them. “Those are my children who are going to look after me,“ Runt said to himself.
At breakfast, the children said to their parents, “There’s a reindeer in our garden.”
“Oh good,” said the father. We can keep him till later in the winter, and then I will kill him and we will eat him up.”
Both children began to cry. “He’s our Christmas present,” said the boy. “He’s our only Christmas present,” said the girl. “And we want to keep him.”
“Well, you can’t,” said the Dad. “We can’t afford the hay.”
Both children began to cry again. “Maybe,” said the mother, “we could keep the reindeer and charge the other children money for rides on his back. We can use the money to buy food. Then the reindeer can be your Christmas present.”
“Yippee,” cried the children. They put on their coats and boots and rushed out to play with Runt. He was their best Christmas present ever! (And Runt was happy too!)

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Once upon a time there was a little reindeer. The others called him Runt. Runt didn’t like being little, as he found the long reindeer treks too much for him, and he could not keep up. Also, he was worried about Christmas. How was he going to do all that flying? Runt had seen the huge sledge where Santa lived: how heavy it looked. And that was before it was piled high with presents. Santa was pretty heavy too. But Runt didn’t want to be left behind, and he knew that the other reindeer born his year would all be in the sledge Team: that was the way it was.
Runt thought it was his fault he was small, though he ate as much grass as he could and tried his best to grow.
“Why am I so small?” he asked his Mum.
“That’s the way it is,” she said. “But it’s not your fault, it’s mine. You were born at the wrong time.”
Reindeer don’t have birthdays like you do, but Runt did know he was the last to be born that year. You see most animals are not like us and born throughout the year: they are born at the best time of year for their survival. Yet somehow, Runt had been born late.
Some of the other reindeer teased Runt. “You’ll have to start early,” they said when there was a trek coming. But this was impossible, for Runt did not know which way to go. He could not just start, for he might get lost and separated from the herd and that would mean certain death in the wilderness… His Mum loved him, and stayed at the back of the herd. “Don’t listen to them. Try and keep up with me,” she said. Runt did try, but it was very hard and he seemed to get smaller and smaller with the effort of it all. But he was not happy, for he knew he would not be chosen to join in Santa’s Sledge Team.
Santa was not unkind. He did not know what Runt was feeling, but he did know that Runt would not be able to join the Sledge Team, even though he should really be in it as he was born that year. He talked to his Mum about it.
“I know,” she said. “But he just doesn’t seem to grow. It was true. As compared with the other reindeer, born just a couple of weeks before, Runt was getting smaller and smaller.
“It’s a pity,” said Santa. “But I don’t see what I can do. I just can’t have him. The Sledge would be unbalanced and it might topple over and spill all the presents for the children.”
“Wait a minute,” said Runt’s Mum. “I’ve had an idea. Perhaps Runt could go in the Sledge and be a present himself! I could decorate him with holly and bits of snow….”
“But do you want to give him away?”
“He won’t survive the winter with us, will he?” said Runt’s Mum. “It’s his only chance.”
They both knew it was true. Runt’s Mum told him what was going to happen. Runt did not like the sound of it. Who would want to be separated from their family? (the herd was Runt’s family, really). But he had no choice. A day before Christmas, Runt’s Mum dressed him up smartly with decorations, and took him to Santa.
Santa looked at him. “Hm,” he said. “well, we’ll give it a go.”
“You’re in luck,” Santa’s Mum said to him. “You’re going to see the world, but you won’t have to do any of the work!” Then she turned her head away, for her eyes filled with tears and she did not want Runt to see them. She knew that unlike all the other reindeer, her Runt would not be coming back….
On Christmas Eve, there were tremendous preparations. The packing had to be done! It was worse than going on holiday, for the none of the presents could be left behind, and each present had to be properly placed in the Sledge or it might fall off. And this year there was less room than usual, for Runt had to go in the Sledge as well as the presents!
“It’s no good,” said Santa, “we’ll just have to have two Sledges this year. You, “he said to a pair of older reindeer browsing nearby, “you will have to be in charge of the second Sledge. We must load that up now!”
Finally, they were ready to go and both sledges flew off with all the presents. Runt had no arms, so he couldn’t hang on, but he was tightly wedged in and quite safe. They soared above the world which looked very different and even more beautiful from the sky. But Runt was rather heavy, and Santa could see that the Sledge he was in would soon fall behind and the reindeer team would not be able to fly with Runt much longer.
“First stop!” Santa called out. Far down below there was a little village in a valley. There was less snow than on the hills, but still enough for the reindeer to land safely, which they did.
“You,” said Santa to Runt, “are very important, and you are going to be the very first present. I know the children in that house, and they will look after you. The family hasn’t much money but the children will give you hay and you will be fine.”
“I’m not going down the chimney,” said Runt.
“No, no. I will put you in the garden. You must stay there until the children find you in the morning. I can’t wait, as I have to do the deliveries.”
So Runt got put in the garden, and Santa flew off with his Sledge. A little boy tucked up in the cottage heard something, and woke his sister.
“Shh… there’s something out there. Let’s try to open the shutters.” The shutters were wooden and heavy and thick to keep the cold out. And both children had to work together to open them. When they looked out of the window, they saw Runt down below, and Runt saw them. “Those are my children who are going to look after me,“ Runt said to himself.
At breakfast, the children said to their parents, “There’s a reindeer in our garden.”
“Oh good,” said the father. We can keep him till later in the winter, and then I will kill him and we will eat him up.”
Both children began to cry. “He’s our Christmas present,” said the boy. “He’s our only Christmas present,” said the girl. “And we want to keep him.”
“Well, you can’t,” said the Dad. “We can’t afford the hay.”
Both children began to cry again. “Maybe,” said the mother, “we could keep the reindeer and charge the other children money for rides on his back. We can use the money to buy food. Then the reindeer can be your Christmas present.”
“Yippee,” cried the children. They put on their coats and boots and rushed out to play with Runt. He was their best Christmas present ever! (And Runt was happy too!)

Published by Charlotte Sebag-Montefiore

After many years working as a clinical psychologist in the NHS, I became an author. My years as a mother and grandmother gave me plenty of practice telling children stories. I have become very interested in dinosaurs and animals, and I really enjoy rhymes and riddles!

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