A True Christmas StoryBy The Eye Magazine published 17 December, 2011 No Comments
You may already know this story, but we think it’s worth re-telling. It conveys a valuable message; No matter how tough things are, don’t give up. You just don’t know what lies around the corner…..!
Robert May was a small baby born in the early part of the nineteen hundreds and only ever reached around five feet tall. That meant he was bullied at school and even as he grew up he was often mistaken for someone’s little brother. When he left college he became employed as a copywriter with Chicago mail order house Montgomery Ward. He eventually married, had a daughter and then tragedy struck. When his daughter was only two his wife became ill and bedridden. Nearly everything he earned went on medication and doctor’s bills. Money was short and life was hard.
One evening his four-year-old daughter climbed onto his knee and asked, “Daddy, why isn’t Mummy like everybody else’s mummy?” It was a simple question, asked with child-like curiosity but it struck a personal chord with Robert May. He had often asked the same question about his lack of height and to try and relieve the awkwardness of the moment he began to tell his daughter a story. It was about someone else who was different, ridiculed, humiliated and excluded because of the difference. Bob told the story in a humorous way, making it up as he went along as many fathers do. His daughter laughed and clapped as the misfit finally triumphed at the end. She then made him start all over again from the beginning and every night after that he had to repeat the story before she would go to sleep.
Because he had no money for fancy presents, Robert decided that he would put the story into book form. He had some artistic talent so he turned the story into a poem and illustrated it to create his daughter’s Christmas present. On the night before Christmas Eve he attended his office Christmas Party and took the poem to show to a colleague. The colleague was impressed and insisted that Robert read his poem aloud to everyone at the party. Somewhat embarrassed by the attention, he took the small hand written volume from his pocket and began to read. At first the noisy group listened in laughter and amusement. But then became silent and after he finished, they broke into spontaneous applause. Later, and feeling quite pleased with himself, he went home, wrapped the book in Christmas wrapping and placed it under the modest Christmas tree. To say that his daughter was pleased with her present would be an understatement. She loved it!
When Robert returned to work he was summoned to the office of his head of department. He had heard about Bob’s poem and told him that Marketing were looking for a promotional tool and wondered if Robert would be interested in having his poem published. The following year, 1939, printed copies of the book were given to every child who visited the department stores of Montgomery Ward and it eventually became an international best seller, making Robert a rich man. His wife had unfortunately died during this time, but he was able to move from the small apartment and buy a big house. He was at last able to provide handsomely for his growing daughter.
The story is not quite over. In 1947, songwriter Johnny Marks used the theme of Robert’s poem for a song. He showed the song to a famous film star of the day, Gene Autry – ‘The Singing Cowboy’. Autry recorded the song and it became a world-wide number one hit.
You may just remember it. The first line goes….
”Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose…..!”Tags: ChristmasGeneral/Seasonal, Stories/Information