By Nick Hall
When I was growing up, my brother Rod and I shared a bedroom on the end of our house. We had recently read a book about Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and how he acts as a lookout for Santa to make sure kids are in bed like they are supposed to be when he arrives. At that time, we were about 6-8 years old and starting to doubt. Our little sister Dana was still in diapers and had no clue what was going on, but she would experience her own visits later. Anyway, that Christmas Eve, our dad took one of those shiny red Christmas ornaments made from silk wrapped around a styrofoam ball, cut it in half, and carefully removed the shiny red silk from one half. It was a perfect fit over that 8-point Whitetail buck that hung over the television. Don’t laugh. We were from Alabama. We thought that’s what all deer looked like. The next thing my brother and I knew, there “arose such a clatter!” We didn’t know it was dad’s ladder hitting the side of the house. Then he appeared in the window in all his Christmas glory. Rudolph! I was terrified and filled with wonder and joy all at once. Claymation flying reindeer are fun. Actual real-life flying deer peering through your window from the darkness are scary! I couldn’t look anymore so under the covers I went. My older brother Rod watched the entire show. Needless to say, there were a lot of skeptics at school in January. So next year we planned to get proof! We told our grandfather, Calvin Clifton, who was editor of the old Sand Mountain News at the time, what had happened, and he assured us that it was the story of the century and he planned to do a stake out with his camera the next Christmas Eve to get the evidence we needed. Sure enough, Rudolph returned, grandad got his picture, and a whole lot of kids were left scratching their heads at Plainview Elementary. Over the years we have recreated this event for younger generations of our family and even friends and neighbors. I had as much fun sharing Rudolph with my own three boys as I did seeing him myself all those years ago. It evolved some over the years though. We added jingle bells to announce Rudolph’s arrival. But the magic is the same as it was all those years ago at the little house at the corner of First Ave. and George Wallace St. Merry Christmas!