This is a story from a long time ago.
Early one morning, a barn owl flew into Lucky Farm and hooted in great distress. Pig, who was lazing in his pen, mumbled, “What’s with you?”
The barn owl continued to hoot. Sultan, the horse, was an early riser. But he liked his mornings to be quiet so that he could watch the sunrise, meditate and decide what he wanted to do with his day. Miseroo, the cockerel, was irritated. It was his job to wake the farm and the barn owl stealing his thunder.
The animals grumbled, as they gathered around Pig’s pen. When he had everyone’s attention, the owl said, “There is no Christmas this year.”
The animals gasped. The Owl nodded and repeated, “Yes, no Christmas this year!”
“But why?” asked the shy brown hen softly.
“Because…” he paused and looked around. “Because,” he repeated, “Santa is finding it difficult to ride the skies with just Dasher, who gets tired. These long rides make him drowsy. Last year, he almost crashed the sleigh!”
The animals were shocked. Hound, the farm dog, was suspicious. He asked, “How do you know? You can’t fly to the North Pole.”
“Well, if you must know,” said the barn owl, offended, “the auk told the snow bunting who told the Atlantic puffin who told me. If you do not believe me, so be it… I must take this dire news to others who will.” He opened his big wings and flew away with a loud whoosh.
“That’s a turn-up for the books,” said Sultan.
“Yes. How can we not have Christmas?” said Miseroo. “It’s like not crowing at dawn!”
The animals were sad and moped around all day long. In the evening Mr. Farmer said, “Okay, that’s it. I have seen these long faces all day long and now I am sad. What’s the matter?”
Pig spoke up. “The barn owl told us that there would be no Christmas this year.”
“But why?” said Mr. Farmer appalled.
“He says Santa has only Dasher to pull the sleigh and he finds it difficult.”
“Uh Oh! Dire news indeed. What can we do?”
Sultan popped up and said, “Maybe I can help him?”
The animals looked at him in awe. They were sure Sultan could do it. But Mr. Farmer looked up and frowned. He said, “Oh no, Sultan you can’t do it. The cold at Santa’s place will be the death of you.”
A way to help
Miseroo piped up, “Then we need to find more reindeer to help Dasher do her job!”
Mr. Farmer’s face lit up and so did the animals’ faces.
“We’ll send a letter to Santa,” said Mr. Farmer.
“Yes, we can ask the barn owl to give it to the Atlantic puffin to give it to the snow bunting to give it to the auk to give it to Santa,” said Pig.
The next morning, the letter was safely in the barn owl’s beak.
Early one morning, a couple of months later, the barn owl made his appearance again. This time, the animals woke up as soon as they heard him. They had been waiting for news from the North Pole.
The barn owl smiled. He announced that Christmas was not going to be cancelled after all. “When Santa read your letter he realised that this was the simplest solution. So he immediately decided to hire more reindeer. He put out an advertisement asking for reindeer who were nimble, agile, strong, kind, loving, and had a strong sense of direction and a sense of fun. Apparently, the reindeer had always hoped there would be an opening for this job. Santa was flooded with applications but only female reindeer were selected. Santa had not put that specification on his poster because he did not want to be hauled up by the Equal Opportunities Commission.”
When the barn owl took a deep breath, Miseroo asked, “Did he select any?”
“Oh yes, he did. There’s Dasher, of course, and then there is Dancer. She loves to dance, as you can guess. Prancer is agile and strong. Vixen is the youngest and Comet the fastest. Cupid is kind, and Donder is forgetful but strong. Blitzen is a great one for pranks, and Rudolph because his nose is so bright that he can guide the sleigh at night.”
“That’s so exciting. I can’t wait for Christmas. I hope I can stay awake and see the nine reindeer dashing through the night sky,” said Miseroo.
Note: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen were officially introduced after Clement Clarke Moore’s poem The Night Before Christmas.