Shop the fall collection ➔

As a child, and even today as an adult, my favorite Christmas movie was always the 1964 film Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. For some reason I always found it the most magical of all the Christmas movies. The stop motion animation always made the characters stand out in comparison to regular cartoon films, while the deep comforting voice of Burl Ives sings songs and narrates throughout Rudolph’s journey. As a mother, I couldn’t wait to show my daughter my favorite Christmas movie in the hopes of her feeling the same way. Having bought the DVD, I’ve been ready since October to finally debut it to my two-year-old. While I always enjoyed the story I’ve never stopped to truly think about the variety of messages delivered amidst all the singing and creativity. I’d never realized the several life lessons instilled in this classic Christmas tale; lessons that are just as valid today as they were the first viewing on December 6th, 1964. .

  1. Don’t judge others based on their differences

Granted, Rudolph’s difference is pretty cool to us. A shiny red nose is pretty darn cool; however, in this story different, no matter how glowing and shiny isn’t very cool, and we watch as Rudolph is treated like an outcast and defriended by those who’d previously thought he was just like them. In today’s world, it’s a very meaningful lesson. Children need to learn from a young age about embracing diversity, because no one should ever feel left out or treated poorly simply for being a little different.

  1. Follow your dreams

Hermey, the elf who becomes Rudolph’s side kick is a fellow outcast because he doesn’t wish to do the same job every elf is born into. He wants to be a dentist. Though he’s told his dreams of being a dentist are ridiculous, he doesn’t bow his head and do what others expect. Instead, he follows what is in his heart, and at the end of the story appears to be well on his way to becoming the first elf-dentist. It’s a wonderful message that tells children they can grow up to be whatever they want as long as they never give up, and that they should never let anyone dictate how their life should be.

  1. You can’t run away from your problems

Rudolph and his friends leave home because they feel they don’t fit in, but it doesn’t matter where they go because they cannot escape who they are. Even when they find the island of misfit toys it’s clear that though the misfits have created their own community, they are still unhappy and unfulfilled. There is no Utopia, and though the grass may seem greener on the other side, it’s probably not. One needs to learn to face fears, and fight battles if they are ever going to find peace.

  1. Your home will always be your home

Even after Rudolph’s long journey, despite his reasons for leaving, he is compelled to return and reunite with his family. In short, home is where one’s heart is. My husband told me something similar when I spoke about moving across the country to a warmer climate. He said, “You’re going to miss this place, because this place will always be your home,” and after careful consideration, I realized he was right. There is always something comforting about home no matter how much has gone wrong over the years.

  1. Parents are only human and make mistakes too

Rudolph’s father makes the mistake of hiding his child’s unique nose because he is afraid that no one will accept him. Unfortunately this delivers a message that he is ashamed of his own child, and doesn’t love him for who he is, even though he clearly regrets his mistake later. Parents do things in the spirit of doing what they think is best for their child, but it doesn’t mean that their solutions are always right, or that they don’t love their children as much as anyone else.

  1. It feels good helping others

When Rudolph has Santa Claus visit the Island of Misfit Toys it is a beautiful moment indeed. The overjoyed toys are saved from their exile and destined to live in homes of their own with children who love them. The lesson is obvious. It is a joyful thing showing kindness toward others, and simply seeing the happiness brought by such kindness is more than enough reward.

  1. Never underestimate the underdog

While Rudolph was originally shunned for his differences, he ends up being the hero of the story as he is able to light Santa’s way through the fog. This speaks to every kid who’s ever been teased for being a nerd, a dork, a loser or an outcast. One never knows who will grow up to be a great success. Greatness can be achieved by anyone, even those least expected.

Marisa Svalstedt

Marisa Svalstedt is a stay-at-home mom living in her hometown of Bethel, Connecticut, with her husband, and their daughter. She received her MA in English from Western Connecticut State. In addition to writing Marisa enjoys photography, modeling, and crochet.

Our Friend Steve Is Back! Get Ready for the “Blue’s Clues” Live-Action Movie

In: Kids, Living
man in a trench coat and green tie looking out door

We just got a letter, we just got a letter! Except this time, it’s even better! ’90s kids rejoice, because one of our favorite classic Nickelodeon series, Blue’s Clues, is getting a live-action makeover. Not only that, but it will also feature all three of the show’s hosts, which means our beloved Steve Burns will be returning to the screen after all this time! You may remember, Steve popping back into our lives unexpectedly last year for the 25th anniversary of the show to explain why he had departed so suddenly. He hit us all in the feels when he...

Keep Reading

Dear School Bus Driver, My Whole World Is In Your Care

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing on school bus stairs, color photo

To the bus driver I do not know, You don’t understand how hard it is to let go of my child’s hand in the morning and hand him over to you. You don’t know how long it took me to make this decision . . . to let him ride the bus.  Some may say it’s brave or courageous to trust another with your child’s life. I sometimes think it can be daring but also really unwise.  RELATED: Every Time I Leave My Child With Autism in the Care of Someone Else, I Worry In today’s world, we must worry...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Blinked, They Grew—and It Was So Beautiful

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boys kissing mother black and white photo

I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t. Not even close. Not in the tiniest, least little bit. When we hugged our precious, oldest boy and left him to start college just a few hours away, we didn’t know what was coming. The waves of emotion, of loss, of pride, of accomplishment. They say not to blink because your kids will grow up. But despite how much we may not want to, it’s involuntary. We have to blink. They don’t talk about this part. No one tells you what to do when you open your eyes again. RELATED: I Blinked and...

Keep Reading

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading