“Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nitwit. Just because my nose glows, why don’t I fit in?”- from Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer
We had my first Christmas when I was six: a tree, lights, and presents, the whole shebang. I asked for Christmas because Christmas was everywhere. At school we had a tree with pretend presents under it. We made ornaments out of paper. I colored mine and brought in a picture of me from home to put in the middle. Where would I hang my ornament if there was no tree at home?
Even our Indian friends had Christmas. For as long as I could remember we had spent Christmas day at Aunty and Uncle’s house. They were Christians, as were a majority of the Indians in our community. As far as I knew we were the only ones who were not Christians, in the whole world even maybe. Why did we have to be so different from everyone else? We didn’t celebrate any Hindu holidays. Hinduism is a vast religion, practiced differently by different sects, casts, and states. There were not enough Hindus in the community from the same region of India, with the same holidays to gather together. Anyway, I wanted presents, and trees, and cookies, and milk. I wanted a stocking, and candy canes, and a My Little Pony doll. I wanted Christmas!
That first Christmas, my dad and I sat together on the couch in the living room watching Christmas specials on TV. The claymation Rudolph the Reidnosed Reindeer was my favorite. In that one, Rudolph gets teased by the other reindeer and teams up with Hermey, an elf who wants to be a dentist. They run away from Christmas Town and end up on the Island of Misfit Toys. The toys there are sad because no one wants to play with them.
I thought they were beautiful and funny: a Jack in the Box named Charlie, a water gun that shoots jelly, a toy bird that swims! The Island is ruled by a beautiful lion with wings named King Moonracer. Rudolph and Hermey want to stay on the Island because they are also misfits. King Moonracer tells them that they are living things and cannot hide on an island like toys. In the end, Rudolph earns his place on Santa’s team and they take the toys from the Island to children who will love them.
That first Christmas Eve, I looked out of our front window, up through the big bare tree in our front yard. Through the branches I could just make out a flashing red light in the sky. It was Rudolph coming to bring my presents. In bed that night, I heard noises on the ceiling. Rudolph! Rudolph! I thought. I shut my eyes tight to try to bring on sleep. I didn’t care about Santa so much. He never seemed very nice in that Rudolph movie. Rudolph would know what I wanted for Christmas. Maybe he would bring me that elephant with spots. He would understand that I just wanted to fit in too.
“We may be different from the rest. Who decides the test of what we think is best? We’re a couple of misfits. We’re a couple of misfits. What’s a matter with misfits? That’s where we fit in!” – from Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer
What have I learned since that first Christmas? I am still always searching for the Island of Misfit Toys. I want to live there, even though King Moonracer says I can’t. Rudolph and Hermey were right -that’s where we fit in. My closest friends have often been misfits: the tomboy, the bi-racial girl, the not-quite-out-of-the-closet yet gay boy. We misfits just seem to get each other, at least more than other people do. We don’t quite belong anywhere, not even with each other, but we can at least feel different together.