Santa's New Reindeer
by Kenneth Nordberg

"Look at Hercules up in the air above us. ... If Mercury would only slow down once in awhile, he would learn to fly, too. Comet has been trying to teach him. One of these days he will succeed."

Population growth is giving the folks at the North Pole logistics problems. Santa needs a sleigh that can accommodate all of the toys; however the eight reindeer can't fly with the additional weight. A new reindeer named Hercules has been taught to fly. Now they need another one. An elf named Isaac thinks that he has spotted the solution. He has seen a particularly fast, wild reindeer in a group, and he thinks that the balance between Hercules' strength and the new deer's (named Mercury, for his speed) ability, may be just what is needed to help the original eight to get the sleigh airborne.

Bribed by a special "golden moss," a rare reindeer treat, Mercury joins the group at the North Pole and learns to fly. A week before Christmas, Santa decides to take a practice flight to Minnesota. There are some glitches as the whole team—human and reindeer—prepare for the Christmas Eve flight. Santa adds the names of the two prodigies to the team's list as he calls out his traditional command, made famous by Clement Moore: "Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen. On Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! Fly away, Hercules! Fly away, Mercury! Fly away, all!"

The story is cute and cozy, as well as good for reading to a small group of children on a winter's night. The camaraderie of the humans, elves, and reindeer feels good. Good will enhances good work ethics and extra effort to meet a difficult goal. The mistakes and tumbles that occur as the group of dedicated reindeer attempt to carry their large burden will make small children laugh. The story, first told at family gatherings by the author as Santa Claus, is enhanced by illustrations by Alison Nordberg.

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