OLIVE, the ORPHAN REINDEER Copyright Michael Christie 1997. All rights reserved.

(Ages: For all those who believe in Christmas)
By Michael Christie

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The storm in the Barrens raged around the little reindeer with a nose like an olive.
"Mommy! Daddy!"
Sheíd lost her mother and father and brothers and sisters.
The night wind shrieked. The snowflakes stung her eyes.
"Mommy! Daddy! Where are you?"
But no one could hear.
And now ó danger! ó wolves.
She could smell them. They were close. Maybe they got my family, she thought, and want me too.
So the little reindeer ran as fast as she could.
In the fierce storm she didnít know where she was going. She just knew she had to get away.
The wolves chased her, but she soon left them far behind.
Even when she no longer picked up their scent, she ran and ran.
Finally she came to the North Pole.

Santa And Mrs. Claus

Gasping for breath, she found herself in front of Santa and Mrs. Clausís house. Night here was calm and peaceful.
She saw them arm in arm on their doorstep. They were looking at the stars.
Santa Claus laughed when he saw the tired little reindeer.
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Look, my dear. A reindeer with an olive for a nose! Goodness! Welcome to the North Pole, little one."
Mrs. Claus smiled. "Well, arenít you just the cutest thing though! Weíll have to call you Olive. Right, Santa?" Santa nodded. "Do you like cookies, Olive?"
"I donít know, maíam," she said.
"Well, try this," said Mrs. Claus. She gave Olive a cookie. "Itís raisin and oatmeal fresh from my bakery."
Olive found it tasty. While she nibbled on it, Mrs. Claus tied a blue bow on her head.
"There, Olive!" Mrs. Claus said, giving her a big hug. "You just needed a mite sprucing up."
"I hope you can stay a while, Olive," said Santa.
Olive felt she'd never see her family again. She was an orphan. So she decided to make the North Pole her home.

Oliveís Jobs

As the years passed and she got bigger, Olive became one of the best skaters among the spare reindeer. She always won the friendly races against them at Candy Cane Pond.
Olive also had important jobs to do during the Christmas season.
She looked through the magic telescope to see which boys and girls were naughty or nice, and reported their names to Number One, the chief elf.
She hauled boxes of presents to Santa Clausís sleigh on the runway.
She delivered muffins from Mrs. Clausís bakery to the hospital.
In the toy factory she checked for broken toys coming off a line in Quality Control.
She liked these jobs, but the job Olive wanted more than anything was to be on Santaís team.
Will I be picked some day? she wondered.

A Foolish Dream

It was Christmas Eve again. As always Olive wished she could go on the Big Trip. Many of her spare reindeer pals had gone. Why not me? she thought. But maybe that was a foolish dream.
Only this morning an elf had shouted, "You over there ó no, not you, Jingles. The other reindeer. Yes, you, green nose. Give us some help."
But at dusk when Olive got off shift, she began to do some serious thinking. Maybe it wasnít a foolish dream at all. What did that smart alec elf know anyway?
So she decided right then to visit Santa and ask him if she could join the team.

A Meeting With Santa

As she stood in front of Santaís house, Olive wasnít so sure of herself.
Just who do you think you are? she thought.
But sheíd come this far so what did she have to lose? All Santa could do was say no.
She hesitated then tapped at Santaís door.
She waited. No answer.
She tapped again.
No one home.
She sighed. "Oh, well, I tried."
Just as Olive was about to leave, the door burst open.
"Ho! Ho! Ho! Well, well, look who it is!" Santa said. He had only one boot on. "Iím just getting ready to go over to Mission Control to check things out before the Big Trip. What can I do for you, Olive?"
"Hi, Santa. I thought Iíd ask if there, uh, was ó was ó"
"Was what, Olive?"
"Well, anything I could do."
Santa thought. "No, I canít think of anything."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Well ó uh ó well ó"
Olive was tongue-tied.
"Please, Iím really in a hurry," Santa said. "Well?"
When he hears what I want heíll laugh at me, Olive thought. Thatís worse than a simple no. She just blinked.
"I canít think of a thing you could do," Santa said.
"Well, I just thought Iíd, you know, ask anyway."
Santa shrugged. "Thank you for asking, Olive." "Youíre welcome, Santa."
She left and Santa scratched his head.
"What a strange conversation," he muttered.


Take-off time was ninety-seven minutes away.
Best to forget about the Big Trip, Olive felt, by keeping busy. Maybe Mrs. Claus wanted some muffins taken to the hospital.
She headed for the bakery.
Lovely smells drifted from it: mincemeat tarts, chocolate cakes, jelly doughnuts, date squares, brownies, buns, bread, all kinds of muffins and cookies.
"Hi, Olive. That nose of yours sure works mighty fine," Mrs. Claus said. "Hereís a nice warm raisin and oatmeal cookie just for you."
"No thank you, Mrs. Claus," Olive said. "Iím not hungry. I just came over to see if you wanted some muffins taken over to the hospital."
"Iím sorry, we made the muffin delivery this afternoon when you were at the toy factory."
Mrs. Claus gave Olive a close look. "Whatís the matter, Olive? Why the glum looking face?"
Olive pawed at the ground. "Well ó itís nothing. Nothing."
Mrs. Claus fixed Oliveís blue bow. It was crooked. "Something is bothering you. Tell me, Olive, donít be shy with me. We girls have to stick together. What is it?"
"Itís nothing, Mrs. Claus. Iíd better go now and see if they need me one last time at the toy factory."
Olive trotted off.
"Youíre my favorite reindeer you know. Iím always around if you need me," Mrs. Claus called after her.

Too Late

At the toy factory Oliveís best friend, Boomer, the chubby harness elf, sat on a crate by the shipping dock. He munched on a peanut butter sandwich.
"Hi, Olive!" Boomer shouted. He liked to shout rather than talk.
"Hi, Boomer. Do they need any more help inside?"
"Not now. Theyíre just tying up some loose ends. Weíre ready."
"Oh." She wasnít needed here either.
"Whatís eating you, Olive? Huh? You look really sad."
"Well, itís just that Iíd love to go on the Big Trip," Olive said.
"Hey, come on! Youíll make it one day."
"Oh, I donít know about that, Boomer."
"You will. Youíre fast. You always win the races on Candy Cane Pond. And youíre strong too."
"Iím just a nobody. After all these years Iím still called the other reindeer."
"Aw, come on! Mrs. Claus for one doesnít call you that," Boomer said. "Tell her what you want."
"Mrs. Claus doesnít do the hiring."
"No, but Iím sure sheís got some clout with Santa."
"I just talked to Mrs. Claus and I couldnít tell her about ó about my dream. I just couldnít."
"Huh? Why not?"
"Well ó I ó"
Boomer waved his sandwich in the air. "Sweet potaters, Olive! You canít just wait for something to happen. And thatís what youíre doing."
"I know, Boomer, I know." She wouldnít mention her visit with Santa Claus or Boomer would get really steamed. "But I just donít like to be ó pushy."
Boomer snorted. "Pushy? You really tick me off sometimes. You know that? The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Things wonít come to you. And ó"
"And what, Boomer?"
Boomer stared at his sandwich. "The Big Trip is only eighty-nine minutes away. But I have to say you can forget it just like the other ones. Itís too late."
Olive gulped. Maybe I should have said something to Mrs. Claus, she thought. Iíll be staying behind again.

The Numbers Arenít Good

Meanwhile Santa Claus, Number One, and Chip, the computer ace, were going over a few things in the Planning Room at Mission Control.
They studied a wall map. Mittens, Santaís orange cat, was on Santaís shoulders. He seemed interested in the map too.
"Santa, the numbers arenít good," Chip said. "We have a record number of kids this year and we just donít have enough reindeer power."
Santa chuckled. "Chip, you worry too much. I have a great team, but we can always add one or two of the spare reindeer."
Mrs. Claus passed by. She cupped her ear to listen.
"One or two wonít do it, Santa, even if we had them," Number One said. "Dr. Winters called me just before you arrived. An odd thing. The spare reindeer are in the hospital sick."
Santa gasped. "Oh, dear! All of them at once? Thatís terrible!"
"And the sleigh is loaded to overflowing," Chip said. "If we added any more toys we couldnít lift off. Lots of toys have to be left behind." He looked at his calculator. "The numbers arenít good."
"They certainly arenít, Chip," Santa said.
"Many places must be missed." Chip pointed at the map with a baseball bat. "Here, here, and here. And there."
Santa Claus sank into an armchair with his head in his hands. Mittens almost fell off his shoulders.
"But we canít let down any children," Santa moaned. "We canít! Youíre the computer expert, Chip. Think of something. Anything! We leave in fifty-six minutes. There must be something we can do."
Chip threw up his hands. "There isnít, Santa, and thatís a fact."
After she heard this, Mrs. Claus hurried over to the hospital.


In the hospital ward the spare reindeer lay in beds. With thermometers in their mouths were Speedy, Jingles, Flash, Igloo, Spinner, Rascal, Bingo, and Pokey.
Dr. Winters took out the thermometers and read them.
"Hmmm," he said. "I canít see anything the matter with any of you." He looked at his watch. "Itís Christmas Eve with forty-three minutes 'til take-off. What if Santa needs some of you? Then what?"
"Then thatíll be too bad," Pokey stated. "Weíre not going back to that gloomy old stable."
"Not until somebody paints it," said Flash.
"Hah! So thatís it," Dr. Winters said. "Blackmail!"
"Thatís a mean thing to say," said Bingo. "But weíre not going back to that stable. So there!"
"Get up! Get up!" Dr. Winters yelled. "Whereís your pride? Whereís your courage? Whereís your loyalty? Get up! Immediately! This is nonsense! This is ó uh, please. With jam on it. Well?"
But the reindeer just snuggled in their beds and answered with snores.
They werenít going anywhere.

Not A Very Nice Idea

Mrs. Claus rushed into the ward. She was alarmed by what she saw.
"Whatís going on, Doctor?"
Dr. Winters shook his head. "I never thought Iíd hear myself say this, Mrs. Claus. Never in a million years. But what weíve got here is a bunch of fakers who want to sleep all day long in nice comfy beds. In short, theyíre on strike!"
Mrs. Claus thought. "I think Iíve got an idea. Itís not a very nice one, but ó "
She whispered into Dr. Wintersí ear.
The reindeer squinted at them. What were they up to?
The doctor held up a needle. He gave it a squirt. The reindeer stirred.
"Now this might smart a little, you reindeer, but itís for your own good," Dr. Winters said.
The reindeer shot up in bed.
"Donít be scared," Dr. Winters said. "It'll only take a second."
"I feel a lot better, Dr. Winters," Jingles said.
"M-m-me too," Pokey stuttered.
"See you, Dr. Winters," said Igloo, bolting for the door.
"Donít call us, weíll call you," said the rest as they clomped after Igloo.
Mrs. Claus and Dr. Winters split their sides as the reindeer stampeded down the corridor.


Take-off was seconds away.
From the runway red, gold, green, and blue fireworks lit the North Pole sky with fantastic patterns.
Two elves at the front of the sleigh blew a trumpet fanfare.
Tah-tah tah tah-tah tah tah. Tah-tah.
Boomer sprinkled Santaís reindeer from his bag of magic sparkles. The sparkles gave them the power to fly.
Chip and Number One looked on with frowns. Everyone was nervous except for the reindeer.
"Iím all set, chief," said Dasher, and pawed at the ground.
"Me too," said Dancer, and shook his bells.
"Letís go, Santa," said Comet.
From the front of Santaís team came a red glow and a giggle.
The reindeer loved Christmas Eve. Santa didnít have the heart to tell them thousands of children would be given a miss on this one.
He slumped in his sleigh. Even his beard seemed to droop.
Olive watched from a rise.
Although she wanted to forget about the Big Trip, she just couldnít help coming to see the show. She especially loved the fireworks.
She heard the reindeerís excited voices. Oh, how she wished she could be one of them.
But Iíll always get left behind, she thought.
Olive turned away.
Sheíd seen enough. A tear trickled down her cheek.
Suddenly there were cries of alarm. And...

What Boomer Did

The sleigh had crashed.
Santa Claus was tossed into a snowbank.
The reindeer sprawled on the runway.
Boxes of presents were scattered everywhere.
Olive galloped to the overturned sleigh. Boomer stood near it.
"Oh, no! This is awful!" Olive cried. "What happened, Boomer?"
Boomer grinned. "I overloaded the sleigh when nobody was looking. I put a set of barbells across the back of the runners."
"What! But why?"
"You want to go with them, donít you?"
"Shh! Of course I want to go, but ó"
"Well, if the team canít get airborne then youíre in. Youíre in!"
"But ó but ó"
"Oh-oh!" Boomer clasped his mouth. "Look whoís coming."

No Time To Lose

Number One marched towards them. His face was red with anger.
"I heard all that, Boomer. Oh, Santa! Santa!" he called. "I think there is something you should know."
Santa struggled to his feet and brushed snow off himself.
"Whatís going on here?" Santa said.
"Tell Santa Claus the disgraceful thing you did, Boomer," Number One ordered. "Go on."
Boomer hung his head. "I overloaded the sleigh with some barbells. Iím sorry, Santa, I really am. But please forget what I did and give Olive a chance to go with you. Thatís why I did it. Olive is as fast as greased lightning."
Santa shook his head. The accident had confused him.
"Olive?" he said. "Olive?" Then it dawned. "Yes, Olive! I was just talking to you. So you want to help deliver the presents, do you, Olive?"
"Oh, yes, Santa. Thatís really why I came to see you."
Boomer gave Olive a surprised look. "Huh? You did?"
Santa stroked his beard. "So that was it! But why didnít you say so? Oh, never mind. Weíve got no time to lose. Come along, Olive."
But Olive didnít move. "Iíd love to, Santa, but I donít think it would be fair to go after this. If not for Boomer, youíd all be in the sky by now."
Boomer clenched his teeth. "Olive, youíre going to blow it."
"Hmm, I see," Santa said. "I see."
For a while no one knew what to say.
Finally Number One spoke up. Heíd cooled off.
"Santa, may I say something?" he said. "Although I do not approve of such a deed, I think Boomer is a good fellow. He has served us well for many years. Perhaps we can overlook what he did."
Santa nodded. "I agree, Number One. Weíll give Boomer a second chance. So, Olive? Do you want to come? Yes or no?"
Olive could hardly believe it. Was her dream about to come true?
"Whoopee!" she shouted. "Youíll see Iím really fast and strong, Santa."
Santaís eyes twinkled. He patted Olive on the head.
"Donít worry, Olive," Santa said. "Iíve had my eyes on you and I know how fast and strong you are. You were going to be on the team sooner or later. So as of now, youíre officially hired."
Chip joined them. He was studying his calculator and he didnít look happy.
"I hate to be a party pooper, Santa, but this wonít change much," he said. "With the help of Olive we can make Los Angeles just before sun up. But many other places will still get left out."
Santa sighed. "I know, I know, I hadnít forgotten, Chip. How could I? All those children will be heart-broken. Theyíll never forgive me. But ó but thereís nothing we can do."

Mrs. Clausís Surprise

At that moment they heard a whistle in the distance. It came from Mrs. Claus.
She wore a red-and-white Santa outfit. And she was driving a team made up of the eight spare reindeer.
"Hee-hah! Giddy-up, my honeys!" Mrs. Claus urged.
The spare reindeer looked as fit as ever. They came at full steam. Snow swirled around their pounding hooves.
Santaís mouth fell open as Mrs. Claus pulled up beside him.
"Mrs. Claus! Goodness! What a surprise!" Santa said. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, dear, I heard you had a problem," Mrs. Claus said.
"We do, we do. A whopper. But I thought all the spare reindeer were in the hospital."
Mrs. Claus smiled. "They were. Flat on their backs until Dr. Winters came up with a ó cure, you might say. And then I did a little wheeling and dealing about giving their stable a new paint job. You really should see it, Santa."
"We can talk about that later, my dear. But right now Iíd like to know why youíre here."
"Well, I thought we could load up my sleigh and Iíll ó go with you. If you donít mind."
Santa clapped his hands. "Mind? Why should I mind? Thatís a terrific idea! You really want to go, donít you, my dear?"
"It would be a hoot. A real hoot."
"All these years and youíve never once said anything."
"Well, wouldnít a passenger have made the sleigh too heavy?" Mrs. Claus said. "So, dear? What do you say?"

The Big Trip

Santa turned to Boomer. "Quick, Boomer! Hitch up Olive to Mrs. Clausís team. That will give us nine reindeer each."
Boomer saluted. "Right away, Santa!"
Boomer hitched Olive in the lead.
A dozen elves gathered up the scattered toys. Another dozen brought the ones left over in the toy factory.
The sleighs were quickly loaded.
Boomer sprinkled Mrs. Clausís reindeer with the magic sparkles.
For a moment the reindeer rose and floated on air. Mrs. Clausís team was now ready to fly.
"Up and at Ďem, Olive!" whooped Mrs. Claus. "Ho-ho! Ho-ho!"
Santa winked. "Youíve got the words, my dear, but, well, the tune needs some work."
Then with a merry "Ho! Ho! Ho!" and a "Ho-ho! Ho-ho!" Santa and Mrs. Claus whooshed off into the twinkling stars and over the moon.
The elves jumped up and down and cheered the two sleighs in the sky. "Yippee! Yippee!"
A few toasted each other with mugs of hot chocolate.
As she led Mrs. Clausís team, Olive held her head up high.
All the boys and girls got their presents on time and they were delighted.
So was Olive. And she did such a super job that from then on she made the Big Trip with Mrs. Claus every Christmas Eve.