The Christmas Reindeer  by Thornton W. Burgess

Little Spot and Tuktu Dream

D O YOU ever have day-dreams? If you do, you know that they are made up partly of wishes, partly of plans and partly of the same sort of stuff that sleep dreams are made of. Tuktu was very busy these winter days. She was very busy indeed, as were all the Eskimo girls and their mothers. What do you think she was doing? You never would guess. She was chewing. Yes, sir, she was chewing. And it wasn't gum that she was chewing, either, although she dearly loved to chew gum when she got the chance. She was chewing skins.

What's that? You think I am fooling? I'm not. Tuktu was chewing skins. Tuktu was making boots for her brother and her father. They were made of skin, and Tuktu was chewing this in order to soften it and make it workable.

But as she chewed, and later as she sewed, making the skin clothing for herself and for her brother and father, she did a great deal of dreaming. Perhaps you can guess what she dreamed of. It was Santa Claus. She didn't call him Santa Claus even to herself. She still called him the Good Spirit. I think myself that is rather a beautiful name for Santa Claus.

And it wasn't of things that she wanted Santa Claus to bring her that Tuktu dreamed. It was of helping Santa Claus. It seemed to her that nothing in all the Great World would be so good, or make her so happy, as to help the Good Spirit spread the message of love and good cheer and happiness to all the little children less fortunate than she. Now, this is going to surprise you. Tuktu actually thought that she lived in the finest part of all the Great World, and she was sorry for little boys and girls who lived where there were no reindeer and where snow and ice were seldom found. She was sorry for boys and girls who had never ridden behind a fast-trotting deer. Yes, Tuktu thought that she lived in the very best part of all the Great World, and she loved it. And she wished somehow that she could help Santa—the Good Spirit—when he carried happiness and joy to all the Great World. Sometimes when she dreamed, she would forget to chew the skin that she was at work on, and her mother would gently remind her that the boots were needed.


Tuktu making boots with her mother

She wondered if she could make a pair of boots for the Good Spirit, and then her face grew warm with shame at her boldness. How could any one even think of doing anything for the Good Spirit? For could not the Good Spirit have all things he desired? And then she remembered something. She remembered that the Good Spirit had said that those chosen deer ought to be good sled-deer because of the time he spent training them. Supposing she and Aklak could get the deer trained so well beforehand that the Good Spirit would not have to spend time in training them. Perhaps then he could start earlier. Then she sighed, for how could she be sure the Good Spirit would choose the deer she and Aklak trained?

And while Tuktu dreamed her day-dreams as she worked, Little Spot, the finest young deer in all the herd, was dreaming day-dreams. And the strange part of it is, his dreams were very like the dreams of Tuktu. He dreamed of being a magic deer. He dreamed of being one of that team of magic deer with which the Good Spirit made his wonderful journey out into the Great World each Christmas. And because he remembered what his mother had said, he tried very hard to be what a young deer should be, for he hoped that in time he would be chosen for a sled-deer. Perchance if he were chosen for a sled-deer and became the best sled-deer in all the great herd, he might some day be chosen in the Valley of the Good Spirit. So he did his best to grow strong and handsome, and to be the swiftest-footed, for he had discovered that it was the strongest, handsomest and swiftest deer that were chosen to draw the sleds of the herders.

But there was one big difference in the dreaming of these two young dreamers. Tuktu had no thought of self, whereas Little Spot was thinking chiefly of his own glory. He had no thought of others, but only great ambition for himself. There are many people like Little Spot in this Great World.

Now, I don't want you to think that Tuktu spent all her time chewing and sewing skins. That was work which could be done when the great storms and the bitter cold kept her indoors. She had her play time, as well as her working time, and there were many happy hours spent with Aklak, helping him herd the deer, for she dearly loved the deer people and they loved her. Even the wildest of them and the most unruly would allow Tuktu to approach and even to pet them. Aklak was growing to be a very fine herder. His father, Kutok, said that Aklak would one day be the best herder in all the Northland. But not even Aklak understood the deer as did Tuktu.