I. M. T.
By Anthony Casperson

Did you know that the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon by Rankin-Bass, that is shown every year, has an alternate ending? That’s right, the end of that holiday classic that we see every December isn’t the original.

The very first year that it was shown, the part where Santa comes to the Isle of Misfit Toys and brings the misfits with him was not a part of the show. But after that first showing, it was reported to the makers of the cartoon that many people found the ending very unhappy for the misfits.

They felt that Santa wasn’t faithful to the request of King Moonracer to find little boys and girls who would give the misfit toys a home. There was a desire for the misfits to find the happiness that had been lacking in their lives up until now. And so, in order to quell the aching hearts of the people, the filmmakers decided to change the ending to the one that we know.

But, does that do justice to the plight of the misfits to give a quick and happy ending?

The mighty winged lion, King Moonracer (who is an image of Jesus, by the way), flies around world every night to bring unwanted, unloved toys to this isolated island in the frigid north until such time that loving homes can be found for them.

How long has the Charlie-in-the-box or the ostrich-riding cowboy been on the island? There’s not a specific statement as to how long any of them have been there, but a number of toys are on the island, so it would seem like there was a lot of time spent there.

But if Santa can come along, last-minute, and know exactly the little boys and girls he can give (re-gift?) the misfits to, why would King Moonracer have made it sound like it takes a lot of time for misfits to find their place? If it was so easy, why couldn’t this mighty King of the island bring a misfit toy to the right little boy or girl the very same night that he took them from the unloving home? Why the long layover in the freezing north?

As a matter of fact, the whole point of the journey that Rudolph, Hermie, and eventually Yukon Cornelius, go on is to discover their place. They are misfits that need a home, a place where they are loved and appreciated. And it’s not until the snowstorm shows the value of Rudolph’s nose that his place at the lead of Santa’s sleigh is discovered. And it’s not until the head elf has a toothache that Hermie’s place of being a dentist comes to find his rightful place.

Those two misfits found their homes, their place of understanding and appreciation, only after a long time. Rudolph had become a young buck after leaving Hermie and Yukon Cornelius, a time-skip that can easily be missed.

And speaking of Yukon Cornelius, what about him finding his place? Well, the original ending of the show had him discover his rightful place when he discovered a peppermint mine. The man who had been searching for something precious to mine by tasting his pick finally found, after searching for a very long time, a mine that held something that tasted good. He’d finally found his place.

But this ending of giving the misfit toys a quick-and-easy, happy ending cuts out the hard-earned home of another misfit. The idea that a loving home can be found for any misfit at a moment’s notice actually undercuts the whole premise of the story.

You can’t just shoehorn someone into a position for which they aren’t made. And you certainly can’t make them try to fit the mold of everyone else. There are special people made for special purposes. And if all you’re trying to do is have cookie-cutter happiness, these people will be miserable, and be nothing but an unloved misfit.

I’m not trying to ruin a holiday classic by dismantling the whole thing. Nor am I saying that the desire for people to want the misfit toys to have a loving home is wrong. The opposite is true. I think that many people want others to feel the love that is supposed to be part of the season, but the way they try to help is by giving the cookie-cutter happy ending that some (many?) of us were never meant to fit.

God has made us all for a purpose. He has a loving home, a place for which we were specifically built, for each and every one of us. But some of us are misfit for the position that others want us to be. No wonder depression and suicide are a big part of the holiday season. We’re looking for our place and everybody’s making our shiny noses dulled.

We need to let the light that God has placed within us shine in the way that it was intended. But finding that purpose, finding that place, finding that home will take time. It can’t be done last minute.

And it will not be the happiest place to live. It can mean being isolated for an extended period of time. It can mean shivering in the frigid north. It can mean being in the darkness of the north during winter. But there is a place, a purpose. We just need to trust in the King of the island that our purpose will be discovered. And on that day, we will find a perfect fit made for us by the King.

So if you find yourself on the Isle of Misfit Toys, remember to trust in the King who is waiting until the moment is right to show you your place.

And if you find yourself with heart rent for the misfits, stop trying to look for a quick and easy solution. Show them love, because it might just be that the reason why their home hasn’t been found yet is because you need to be ready for them. You never know when their light might just bring joy to the people of the world.