Some time back, I wrote a Christmas piece in which I referred to the reindeer Donder and Blitzen. When the story was published, an unknown editor had changed Donder to Donner without my permission—and without Donder’s.

What! you say, it is spelled Donner.

Wrong, Reindeer Breath!

Clement Moore, reputed author of A Visit from Saint Nicholas (‘Twas the Night Before Christmas), clearly named all eight reindeer, and he wrote more than once that Donder’s name is, well, Donder—not Donner!

This means that Gene Autry (first recording artist to electronically transcribe the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) got it wrong. He simply mis-read the lyrics.

So, for once in our lifetime, let’s get it right. Pay respect to Donder by calling him by his rightful name.

Anybody who calls this trusted Santa helper by his incorrect name will hereafter be known in reindeer circles as a Donderhead.

Don’t believe me? Go to and learn more.

Merry Happy, Donder and Blitzen and all you other reindeer and reindeer fans

Jim Reed © 2009 A.D.



Click above to listen…click below to read.

If you really want to please me, if you truly wish to give me something that will make me smile, if you want to feel you’ve done the right thing by me, then read on:

This Christmas, give me something personal, something of yourself–not something you picked up at the Mall or ran into the Pharmacy and grabbed at the last minute. Just this one Christmas, I would love to receive something truly personal, something that is part of you.

The gift you give as a part of yourself could be any number of things.

You could write a little poem for me, one you made up all by yourself.

You could sing me your favorite Christmas carols, the ones you’ve loved since childhood.

You could do a little performance for me–a funny jig or a joke or two about what it’s like to know somebody like me.

You could draw me a picture and sign your name at the bottom and date it, “Christmas, The 21st Century A.D.”

You could take me to dinner all by yourself and sit and chat with me over some nice food and drink, I listening to what you have to say and you listening to what I have to say.

You could make a little album of photos and memorabilia about me and you, and give it to me with a loving hug.

Get the idea?

You may come up with something better or something more interesting than any of these–that’s ok. As long as you give me something personal, something affectionate and caring, I will be happy.

Maybe you feel uncomfortable, trying to improvise a Christmas gift for me. Perhaps you’ve gotten used to going to the store and purchasing something, and maybe you feel this IS a personal way to gift me. If that’s so, then here’s something you can try, something that may please us both: Go to the store and find a delightful little toy, a toy that makes you smile, involuntarily. Then, bring me that smile–and the toy, too. We can enjoy the toy and our mutual smiles together at the same time!

If all of this is just too much trouble, you could even do this: take me to lunch and ask me what I’d like to give to you, if I could only afford it or if I could only do it just right, in a way that you would appreciate.

Anyhow, I thought you might get a kick out of learning the answer to that age-old question we all ask each other every year: “What do you want for Christmas?” This year, I thought I’d tell you the truth, as I feel the truth this year.

Give me part of you, and I will try to return the compliment next Christmas

–Jim Reed (c) 2009 A.D.




Harlem Reindeer

(Read below or click audio above.)

My first visit to Harlem to visit Oliver Hardy was just a few years back, but I can’t forget it.

Let me back-track.

I’m driving the long and barren interstate between Augusta and Atlanta in the dead of winter. The sky is gray, the asphalt is gray, the grass and trees are gray, and the mood is grayish. My wife, Liz, and my granddaughter, Jessica, are with me. Suddenly I see a roadside sign directing me to Harlem, Georgia.

Interesting. There is a Harlem Down South?

Then, the next sign tells me that Harlem is the birthplace of the late film comedian Oliver Hardy, of Laurel and Hardy fame.

This is my chance to break the gray day into something smileful. Without asking anybody’s permission, I swerve onto the road to Harlem.

“Where are we going?” Liz asks.

“Why are we turning?” Jessica asks. She’s in a hurry to get to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit family.

“Oh, I’m just going to check something out,” I say. “Maybe we’ll have fun!”

Both passengers grumble and try to go back to their naps.

Suddenly, I’m yelling, “Look look look!” rapid-fire, to make sure Liz and Jessica wake up and look ahead of us on the two-lane blue road.

There, half a block away, five deer are crossing the road, and Jessica claps her hands in delight,

“Are they reindeer?”

I make my usual retort, “Maybe this is where Santa keeps his reindeer off-season.” Jessica is still young and hopeful and a Believer, so she accepts this explanation without a hint of cynicism.

We drive on in to Harlem, the gray day broken by smiles and daydreams.

Harlem is a tiny town, but, sure enough, it’s the hometown of Oliver Hardy. Nothing is open today, since it’s Sunday, and this is long before the Laurel and Hardy museum is fully functioning.

We visit for a while, find that some locals don’t know who Hardy was, find that others are proud of who he was. Liz and I enjoy the visit, but Jessica doesn’t know who these comedians were, so she’s just along for the ride, still thinking about those five reindeer.

Years later, when Harlem has its act together, I take grandsons Ryan and Reed to Harlem, and they get to see a Laurel and Hardy movie, which makes them instant fans.

But today, driving out of Harlem and heading back to the interstate, Jessica starts to settle down in the back seat and Liz closes her eyes while I drive.

Once on the interstate, I’m driving along at my usual at-the-speed-limit rate when I see in the rearview mirror a truck bearing down on us and getting ready to pass. The large open bed of the truck has something gray piled onto it, so I glance again, as it starts to pass us, to determine what it is hauling.

Two hunting-capped men are in front and in the bed are five fresh deer carcasses, their antlers waving with the truck’s motion.

Since they’re passing on the left, I quickly yell, “Look over there! (pointing to the right-hand fields) What’s that? Do you see that?”

Liz and Jessica rise up and peer to the right, their attention focused intensely, just as the truckload of deer passes on by. I keep making up stuff to keep them searching the fields, until the truck is out of sight. Then, I have to fabricate something so they won’t think I’m completely crazy.

“I thought I saw a grizzly!”

They look at me funny and settle back down, never having seen the truck.

And I continue the drive toward Augusta, slightly proud of myself for having saved one little girl’s dream of Santa for at least another season


–Jim Reed © 2009 A.D.




(Read text below and/or listen by clicking above.)

Every trip to the old antebellum house was like Christmas Morning.

Whenever I could get there, by way of bus or foot or bicycle or ride-hitching, I felt like Christmas had just gotten jump-started.

The antebellum home in Downtown Tuscaloosa, back in the 1950’s, had expelled its original dwellers and converted itself into the County Library.

It seemed to exist solely for my pleasure.

Up the stairs not racing in slow motion—didn’t want to incur the wrath of a shushing librarian—I would head for the bookcases containing the knowledge of the known world and the imagined knowledge of undiscovered worlds.

Opening each book was like unwrapping a Christmas gift.

Each volume contained its own peculiarities. In addition to the printed words within, there were always imagination-laden surprises:

A pressed flower might drop spinning to the floor.

A scrap of paper complete with cryptic message would unfold itself and read its contents to me.

A margin scribble or an underline would challenge me to guess what a previous reader’s life was like.

Mustard stains might tattle-tale whether the patron read at night or on the run at a hot dog stand.

Unmistakable tobacco fragrances absorbed by the paper would be identified by brand-name (Cherry Blend was popular).

Little crayoned bookmarks and turned-down corners made certain pages more intriguing.

Coffee rings exposed the previous reader’s carelessness.

Librarian mutilations included penciled numbers and rubber stamps and glued pockets and dog eared dated cards and taped-down dust jackets and intrusive binding materials and repaired/reinforced spines.

The heft and texture and color and fragrance and flaws of the physical book were more fascinating than the book itself, at times.

The powerful shower of Holmesian clues would almost make reading the book an anticlimactic exercise.

To this day, I prefer the flawed personality of a well-used book to the pristine untouched edition that nobody ever opened.

Every book has its own history, my dear Watson. I can tell you a lot about what that book has been through just from all the clues and hints of clues that warp it and give it character.

Visit my antebellum shop in the Center of the Universe and commence your sleuthing

Jim Reed © 2009 A.D.

Reed Books Antiques/The Museum of Fond Memories and the Library of Thought

at the center of the universe

2021 Third Avenue North

Historic Downtown Birmingham, Alabama 35203

Hours: Tuesday through Friday 10:30am till 5:30pm & Saturdays 11am till 4pm






Once when I was oh so young, a Vizier came to me.

He first was coy, was but a boy, but said he’d set me free.


He stood by while I cried my fear, he let me show my ache;

And when I dared to act real brave, he’d give my hand a shake.


I grew up and went my way, but wondered who he was,

This Vizier who cared for me and let me find my cause.


One day as I was feeling whole and pure and fine and proud,

I glanced into a mirror…exclaimed in awe aloud,

And waved at my now old Vizier, who carried me through life;

And puzzled how he’d known that I could deal with all life’s strife.


This Vizier boy, now Vizier man, had known it all along,

Known that I would catch up, catch on, sing my own sweet song.


Now that I am oh so old, my Vizier stays with me.

He lives within my mirror and waits there patiently,

Making faces when I’m sad, winking when I’m glad,

And seeing what I am and was—just a star-struck lad,

Wryly helping mark my time, slow to criticize,

And always looking straight at me through my own star-struck eyes


© 2009 A.D. Jim Reed