Chris Byers, MA, LMHC
An Unlikely Hero: The Dentist Who Saved Christmas
It’s confession time. I’m a middle-aged man and I have ZERO shame admitting how much I absolutely adore the claymation Christmas classic, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. As a kid, I would wait with great anticipation for Rudolf to finally hit the screen signaling that Christmastime was here.
You might be surprised to discover Rudolf has never really been my favorite character of the story. I’m not intending to throw any shade on poor-old-Rudy, he quite literally always lives in the spotlight, and you can’t deny that his red nose definitely helped save Christmas. However, such is life, there is one who is often overlooked, and in my mind, is the unlikely hero of this perennial tale.
In a classic all is lost moment, Hermey the Misfit Elf, puts some heart into it and courageously faces the scary Bumble-Snow-Monster head on. Pretending to be a vulnerable oinking little piggie, he distracts the ferocious Bumble who has Rudolf, his parents, and Clarice trapped and facing certain death. But because the Bumble can’t resist a delicious pork dinner, Hermey sets the trap, using himself as the bait. He lures the villainous monster outside of his cave giving Yukon Cornelius the perfect opportunity to concuss the hangry snow monster with a huge chunk of ice.
While it's certainly arguable that the victory over the Bumble-Snow-Monster was a team effort, I believe this video evidence clearly shows Hermey the Dentist as the real hero who saved Christmas....from a certain point of view! I mean, if Hermey didn't fulfill his professional responsibilities as dental provider, Rudolf would have never made it out of that cave and Santa would have missed out on a custom red-nosed guided sleigh. Just sayin!
What I enjoyed so much about the tale of Hermey The Misfit Elf is that it was one of the earliest stories where I fell in love with what I have come to understand as the hero's journey. It was a story I resonated with. I know what it's like to feel like a misfit or that I hadn't really found what I was looking for personally or professionally. The Elf status quo was not appealing to Hermey (and I mean no disrespect to Elves worldwide), and he was compelled to break tradition and seek out his own life's passion, vision, and purpose. In doing so, he not only fulfilled his dream of becoming a dentist, he also created a foundation of inspiration for kids like me, reminding us all to never give up on our dreams.
During this holiday season, maybe you, or one of your VIP's, are not feeling so inspired and life seems without direction, passion or purpose. I know what that feels like too. However, what I discovered, just like Hermey, Rudolf, and Yukon, is that I couldn't keep trying to do it alone. Every hero needs a guide to help encourage, equip, and empower them to face their mountain, to fight the Hangry Bumbles, and live life courageously. When you are ready, we are here to help. You don’t have to climb alone.