(Mis) Remembering a Christmas Classic!

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Would you rather have silver and gold? Or would you rather have peppermint?

You might be under the impression Yukon Cornelius of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer fame was after riches of silver and gold.

He wasn’t.

I mean, I hate to mess with your Christmas memories, but facts are facts.

‘Tis the season for Christmas specials.

I’m not going to lie – even as a grown man, I love watching Christmas specials. Snoopy decorating his dog house. The Grinch folding up a Christmas tree like an umbrella and stuffing it up the chimney. Frosty the snowman melting in the greenhouse.

There are a lot of great memories in those shows.

My all-time favorite Christmas special is Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved Rudolph.

I still do.

It was different back in the day. We had to wait until the shows came on TV.  I think that’s lost on many people today in our world of on-demand streaming. Those of you over a certain age will remember scouring the TV guide from your local newspaper starting around the first week of December eagerly waiting to see Rudolph pop up on the schedule.

My mom always made an event out of it. She would always whip me up a special Christmas treat – maybe a hot chocolate or apple cider. Sometimes, I even got freshly baked cookies. If it was cold, she would build a fire in the fireplace, and we would snuggle up in blankets to watch the show.

Here’s a confession: when I was really little, the abominable snow monster horrified me.

In retrospect, I have to wonder why. Remember when he tipped over? The bottom of his feet looked just like the bottom of my footie pajamas. How did I not notice that? How did I not realize that the abominable was a total fake?

I guess a 5-year-old has limited powers of observation.

But other than being scared of the PJ-footed snow monster, I loved the show as a little kid. And as I said, I still do.

Now, as a guy who writes about gold and silver for a living, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Yukon Cornelius. As you recall, he wandered the north in search of silver and gold. But I bet you don’t know the whole story behind old Yukon. Here’s a dirty little secret. The version most of us watched on TV as kids cut part of the story out.

I kid you not!

You’ll recall that when Cornelius meets Rudolph and the elf Hermey, he launches into a dramatic and emphatic introduction.

The name’s Yukon Cornelius, the greatest prospector in the north! And you know, it’s rich with gold! Gold! Gold and silver! Silver and gold! Wahooo!”

He punctuates his greeting by tossing his pickaxe up into the air, licking it, and declaring, “Nothin’.”

This pickaxe tosses and licking behavior repeats throughout the drama. When you stop and think about it, it’s kind of weird. And maybe a little gross. But I never thought about that as a kid. Of course, this is the same kid who didn’t notice the snow monster was wearing footed pajamas.

On a side note, how did his tongue not freeze to the metal in the frozen Arctic? (That brings to mind the flagpole scene in “A Christmas Story.”)

Anyway, you almost certainly think Yukon was hoping to discover riches in the form of gold and/or silver. That’s certainly the impression the show gives you.

Well, you think wrong!

He’s not looking for gold or silver!

Now for those of you who grew up on network TV, you know that things were often edited for commercials. This was the case with Rudolph. CBS deleted the scene that explains exactly what Yukon was looking for. Rick Goldschmidt wrote a book on Rudolph and calls this “the most significant deleted scene.” An article in the Huffington Post explains what happened.

It comes right after Rudolph guides Santa through the air to the Island of Misfit Toys. Rudolph’s parents, Donner and Mrs. Donner, Rudolph’s girlfriend, Clarice, and Cornelius are featured, while Donner says, ‘That’s my buck!’ finally confirming Rudolph’s dad is no longer ashamed, as Goldschmidt points out. But more illuminating is that the scene finally gives an answer as to why Cornelius kept licking his pickax throughout the special. In this deleted scene, Cornelius throws his ax in the air, lets it strike the ground and then, after licking it as he has been wont to do, declares, ‘Peppermint! What I’ve been searching for all my life! I’ve struck it rich. I’ve got me a peppermint mine … Wahoooo!’”

And here’s the deleted scene. You’re welcome!

Interestingly, if you’re just a tad bit older than I am, you may remember the deleted scene. It last aired on TV in 1964. It’s also on the DVD. So, if you have watched it with your kids, you already know this little secret.

Anyway, I get the whole peppermint Christmas motif, but to be honest, I don’t particularly like peppermint. I’d rather have chocolate. And let’s be honest, Yukon was a little misguided. I’ll take gold and silver, over chocolate or peppermint, thank you very much.

Anyway, on behalf of everybody here at SchiffGold, I wish you a wonderful holiday season!

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