Hi all,

It has been about a week since the news of Donner’s injury at the Reindeer Games. Few things bring more mail or questions to my desk than the reindeer. We even received– gratefully, I might add — a bunch of get well cards from Mrs. Danson’s 2nd grade class from Alabama for Donner. The reindeer are obviously very, very important to Santa believers.

Donner is doing a bit better. He is on his feet and walking around some. Elf Victor and others who are part of the Reindeer Operations Department here at the North Pole feel that Donner could be ready to fly next week.

Even still, Santa is worried about Donner.

Santa calls me every day for various reasons at this point for updates on all things related to Operation Merry Christmas. Donner is at the top of that list.

I have promised Santa that I would visit Donner each day and give him a report. I have reminded Santa that I am not a reindeer expert but he still insists that I visit him and give him a report. So I do that every day.

I would also tell you that I know Santa also calls others about Donner. Santa also calls Donner himself, too. Santa is very concerned about Donner and he wants him working on Christmas Eve, if at all possible.

My personal opinion is that Donner will do everything he can to be ready. He knows that Santa has other reindeer and Donner also knows there are plenty of reindeer who want to take his spot on Santa’s team.

All the reindeer have different personalities. Donner is one serious reindeer. Unlike some other reindeer, I have never seen Donner dance around or pull pranks. He is a leader among the reindeer and he takes his role seriously.

Some have asked if Donner is like he is played in the television special “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer“. The answer is “no”, Donner is not like that at all.

He is big and strong. He is serious, as I said before. He works hard and he is all business. Santa is very close to him. Donner has a way of communicating with the other reindeer that is very unique. He does not make a sound. Not a word. He can say things with just a look. Whatever Donner does the other reindeer do when Santa is around.

When Santa gets ready to take off in his sleigh the other reindeer watch Donner to see what he is doing. Donner is not a lead reindeer but he is the leader. He and Blitzen are always at the back of the team — the ones hitched closest to the sleigh. They are in the best position to hear Santa. Both Donner and Blitzen can direct the rest of the team just by pulling a certain way on the harness. How they exactly communicate with the reindeer in front of them I don’t really understand. But they do.

They control everything when Santa takes off, flies and lands.

So Donner is a very important reindeer. I know Santa can deliver without him but I also know Santa does not want to go without him.

It is no wonder he is so worried about Donner.

We should know in a few days of Donner can go this year. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, thank you for all your questions, your concerns and your love for Donner. I tell him everything that comes in for him. He is humbled by it. And I think he uses it as motivation to get healthy and ready to fly for Santa.

Elf Ernest