I’m writing this on the birthday of my dear friend, Molly. She is one of my bestest friends from college days. It’s a big birthday — well worth celebrating, which she’ll do next week with a rollerskating party complete with musical hits from the 1980’s. This is very Molly — the kids immediately said, “Only Molly!”
Molly is, quite possibly, the coolest of our friends. At least our kids think so. She is pretty amazing — she skied the Vasaloppet (she’s the one in the red hat with a big smile) last year. She has canoed in polar bear country and travelled to many lands. She regularly leads what #1 Son called “expeditions” when he was little. She is kind, strong, hilarious, adventuresome, and a Kid Magnet.
I was in the mall today — very briefly and yet far too long. Christmas music was blaring, lights flashing, and everything I didn’t want to buy was at least 40 – 60% off. I was about to give up, when a truly horrid rendition of Rudolph, the Red Nose Reindeer came on at top volume.
Reader, I smiled — right there in the mall. (I hate the mall, if you haven’t guessed.) With that song I remembered Olive and I remembered Molly, the birthday girl. They go together for me — keep reading, I’ll explain.
I left just as quickly as I could find my way out and came home to have a cuppa something warm and read Olive, The Other Reindeer by J. otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, which came to us via Molly the Christmas #1 Son was almost three years old. She was so excited about this book that she gave it to him as soon as she walked in the door, before she had her coat off even. She was spending the night — always a treat — and #1 Son, fresh from the bath and all pajama-ed up, requested that she read him his stories before bed.
“Open it!” Molly said, already laughing. “We’ll read this book first!”
And so he opened this whimsically illustrated book about a little Jack Russell terrier named Olive, who is wrapping Christmas presents in her dog house when she hears the line “All of the other reindeer…”as “Olive, the other reindeer….” She’s just singing along when she makes the important existential discovery.
“Olive…the Reindeer,” said Olive. “I thought I was a dog. Hmmm, I must be a Reindeer!”
Olive sets aside her wrapping and marches out the door. She takes one bus, and then two buses (one of my favorite illustrations) and arrives at the North Pole to help Santa just in time.
Molly nearly died laughing reading this book. Meanwhile, #1 Son did not get the joke. He half-giggled along, looking up at Molly like “Okaaaay…if you think it’s funny…!” And Molly…well, Molly could not stop laughing. What we had was pretty much a Wonky Donky situation. (If you’ve not seen this video, please give yourself the gift and click here.)
This book so tickled my friend; and so, of course, #1 Son laughed along. But it was years before he “got it.” I was reading it to him when it clicked — I sang the lines and you could see the “lightbulb” flash on.
Whether you get the joke or not, the book is tremendous fun — Olive turns out to be immensely helpful with her various dog skills. Santa wouldn’t have made it without her. Olive turned into a bit of a series — subsequent books and a cartoon etc.. We just have the original, though. It’s a treasure all on its own!
It’s hard to believe this book is more than twenty years old…but so is #1 Son…and Molly is 50!
If you don’t have Olive on your Christmas shelf — get yourself a copy this year. You’ll love it!
And if you are one of those “cool friends” for someone’s kids — the kind that brings hilarious books when you come to visit (expedition leading not required) — bless you! Know that your influence on said children is deep and wide.