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Donner 

Rear Left Sled Reindeer, Santa Claus Exports

We all know the rhyme -- "On Dasher! On Dancer! On Prancer, and Vixen! On Comet and Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!"

Dasher. Dancer. Vixen. Comet. Dazzling, energetic names for Ol' Saint Nick's most valuable players, but what about Donner, the least-known of the reindeer muscle team? This valuable delivery professional is one of the original members of Father Christmas' hard-working group of reindeer, formed back in 1822. While not as much of a household word as his cohorts, the German mush deer has been deep in the scene since day one and the chance to hear his story is quite exciting for the Indy. During the lull before Thanksgiving, Donner took a break from his off-season training to talk to us about what it really means to be one of Santa's reindeer.

So Donner, we thought you'd be off on vacation, but you're hanging around the Pole with all the other reindeer. All of us are. We see the whole damn world once a year, every nook and cranny of it, and sometimes it's nice to just hang around the pad and watch Judge Judy. We did try to get a flight down to Cancun but all of these labor disagreements have made the airlines pretty unreliable.

Airlines? But, you fly. On your own. Listen,... we live like cats in Egypt 364 days a year, and being a reindeer is still got to be one of the hardest, if not the hardest jobs in the world. Santa ain't exactly a slender willow and being at the back of the sled I've got the brunt of the fat man's weight. You'd think Blitzen could help out a little bit? Noooo. God forbid we break a sweat. And Comet and Cupid ... couple of jerk-offs that don't do enough pulling on the harness when the going gets tough. Supposedly they're the "team motivators," and if running a little faster to get their furry butts out of my face is motivation, then they've got me rearin' to go. Suffice it to say, we don't much feel like flying. Anyway, trying to get extra magic flying dust from Santa is like trying to pry a rosary from a corpse.

Is Santa a fair boss? As far as slave-driving wagon masters with inferiority complexes go, he's good. The interest rates are giving him a bit of trouble and he wants to cut stock benefits to the elves, but heck, you can always get gnomes for less. As long as I'm getting a paycheck and sweet grain, we be cool.

But Rudolph must be a great help, guiding and all, right? Let me tell you a little something about Rudolph. He used to work the swing shift with me back in the '70s, and we got to be pretty tight. Turns out he had a drinking problem, had a thing for hepped-up Egg Nog and Rum Balls. After a while he developed some serious gin blossoms, and when the PR people saw them they wanted to can him, but the boys and I stuck up for him and got him that sweet lead job. Then the jerk comes out with his tell-all, complaining about not being let in the games and being laughed at and called names. I got his reindeer game right freakin' here. You can print that.

Well, what do you like the most about your job? The ladies. That's one of the reasons we go on tour every Dec. 24 to 25, to promote Christmas and whatnot, but also to introduce ourselves to all the girls. The ladies love a man in sleigh bells.

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