Where do magic reindeer come from? You know, the ones that pull Father Christmas and his sleigh.
They come from the earth. You have to plant them first though.
You buy them at a market stall. Not any old market stall. It will be hidden round the back, or down a side alley. You’ll know when you find it.
But what do they look like?
They’re small and brown and slightly grubby, like little potatoes, but look carefully and you will see their little antlers, and their tiny, closed eyes.
Carry them home carefully, sing gently as you do.
What shall I sing?
Sing lullabies and songs of sleep, rock them in your arms.
What shall I do then?
Choose a patch of sweet brown earth and dig each one a hole. Make it small and make it snug, a warm, dark nest for each to sleep.
Pop each one in and cover them with a blanket of leaves and sticks. But leave a little gap, so that the wind can blow gently on them, the rain can give them water and the sun can warm their fur.
Is that all?
Oh no, that’s only half the work.
Each day you must go and sing to them and check their little beds. Gather more leaves to keep them safe, whisper to them about the skies above and how they soon will fly.
As winter comes and the earth grows cold, the little reindeer begin to stir. They grow and stretch and twitch and dream.
What do they dream?
They dream about the skies above and magical lands full of colour and light. They dream about the stars and moon and snow and ice and galloping hooves.
And then what happens?
When the days grow short and the nights grow long, when the sun is weak and the frost is hard, then she comes.
The Reindeer Queen of course. She flies at night and finds a tall and rocky hill, high above the land below, where she can see the reindeer beds.
And then she sings.
What does she sing?
She sings a song of sparkling stars, of fields of snow and a moon so bright; of hooves that dance and prance and spring above the clouds; of gifts all wrapped and piled high in a sledge so long. She sings of a magical man, with beard so white and eyes so bright. She sings a song of love and joy.
And then they come.
The reindeer. They burst from their beds of earth and leaves, they scatter the sticks across the ground, they stretch and shake the soil from their backs, and then they leap towards the sky. They leap and leap and they leave the ground and gallop through the air towards her call. And she waits for them on her high hill and they dance around her in joy and fun.
She touches each one, nose to nose, and then she sings, a long, sweet note. The reindeer hush and each one stills and then, as the note reaches its end, they turn as one. Together they rise into the sky and bound through the air on their strong brown legs.
They follow the Queen through the stars of the night, feeling the cold on their fur-covered backs. Their eyes gleam bright and their antlers stand tall as they swoop and soar over the earth.
Where do they go?
Why to the north of course to the land of snow, the land of magic and kindness and dreams. They follow her there through all that night and then at last they see a light. A light that shines by a tall, broad house, with a pointy roof and fields around.
Is that where Father Christmas lives?
The very same. He stands at the door in his warm red coat and waves to the reindeer as they circle above. And gently, gently the Queen floats down and lands by the house to greet her friend. He strokes her nose and she moves away while each of her followers, one by one, comes to rest and does the same.
So Father Christmas strokes them too and then they move off to feed and rest, ready for the time, a few nights hence, when they will fly again through the starry night.
Will that be Christmas?
Yes, on Christmas Eve they will fly again, but this time they will have a job to do, a job so important they must first rest, a job so important they must be strong.
For they must pull that heavy sleigh, far through the skies across the earth. They must fly through the air across the moon and land on roofs with gentle hooves. The off again, up over the towns, the villages, cities, the far remote farms. On and on through the Christmas night, bringing the magic both far and wide.
And can I see them?
If you wait, silent and still, watch at your window as the night draws on; if you listen hushed and calm, listen for the sound of beating hooves. And if you wish, and hold your breath, perhaps you will see then flying by.
Or if you sleep, perhaps you will dream, dream of the reindeer high above.
And when you wake you will know they have been, pulling their sleigh with presents for you. And when you wake you will know one more thing, that on Christmas morning the magic is real.