Last week’s Reindeer Games were won by The Mighty Mick, a two year old reindeer of massive size who surprised everyone with an inspired performance. But The Mighty Mick did not win on the strength of his body. He won due to the size of his heart.
Last winter I wrote a feature titled the Legend of Elf Big Sled Ted for SantaTrackers.net. I’ve now made that feature publicly available (it was published just for elves). I’m making it available for the world to read because I truly believe the story of The Mighty Mick cannot be told without knowing the legend of his coach and trainer, Elf Big Sled Ted.
After all, both Mickey (as Big Sled Ted calls him) and Ted (as only Mickey knows him) have a great deal in common:
Big Sled Ted is huge for an elf – over 7 feet tall. They call him “Big Sled” because Ted can lift the large size model of Santa’s sleigh over in the sleigh barn where Santa’s ride is engineered every year. It is just one of many supersized jobs that Big Sled Ted does at the North Pole.
But Big Sled Ted is known for one other over-sized feature: his heart. He is a kind, gentle and generous giant.
On a tour of reindeer ranches with Santa way back in 2020 Big Sled was there when a big baby was born – a reindeer they named Mickey.
From the very beginning, due to his large size, little Mickey had all kinds of health problems. Though large in size with well developed lungs Mickey’s joints were not strong enough for him to stand for long. This made learning to walk very difficult.
Not being able to walk meant that Mickey could not run. And if Mickey could not run, he could not fly.
Big Sled Ted took immediate interest in Mickey. After all, he knew how hard it could be to get a big body to work in a world not made for big bodies.
So Big Sled Ted stayed behind for months on that reindeer ranch in the Swiss Alps. His job was to teach Mickey how to make his big body work.
The first thing Elf Big Sled Ted taught Mickey was to eat as his big body required. That does not mean he fed him sweets or caused him to eat too much. He just let Mickey eat as much as he liked. Then he began to talk with Mickey.
That’s all. Just talk.
What did they talk about?
That is likely forever something neither one will ever fully tell us. But Big Sled Ted told me that he wanted Mickey to know he had a friend and that his life was full of purpose. He just needed to find it.
Mickey, of course, is a reindeer in a reindeer’s world. He came from a very strong family with a huge tradition of serving Santa. For Mickey, his purpose in life was to carry on that tradition. Mickey wanted then – as he does now – to only be of use to Santa on that night of all nights, Christmas Eve.
With that as his dream, Big Sled Ted knew that somehow Mickey needed to learn how to make his body work.
So Big Sled Ted went back to the North Pole and spoke to both Santa and to Elf Victor, head of Reindeer Operations at the North Pole. Elf Victor put Ted in contact with some experts at Southern North Pole University. They advised Ted on how to help Mickey eat, exercise and grow in the right way that might help him develop control over his body.
So Big Sled Ted went back and began to do all those things for Mickey.
Before too many months, Mickey was walking, then he was running and then – he began to fly.
As Big Sled Ted experimented with different foods that might help Mickey grow he discovered that Mickey seemed to really enjoy pumpkins, of all things. Pumpkins are not a usual reindeer food but they aren’t bad for reindeer either. Soon Big Sled Ted began mixing pumpkin with other foods that build strength in reindeer. He mixed seeds, berries, and even vegetables and grains with pumpkin that Mickey just loved.
As Mickey became more and more coordinated, and ate better and better, his thin frame started to fill out and the muscles started to grow. His joint pain went away. Over a period of many months, Big Sled Ted helped Mickey to run for miles at a time and then engaged with trainers to help him fly.
Santa came to visit again after Mickey was about a year old. He was stunned to see how far Mickey had come. In fact, Santa was watching Mickey play with some other reindeer and he asked, “Who is that big boy out there?”
Big Sled Ted couldn’t believe it.
He thought for sure Santa would recognize him but Santa did not.
So when Big Sled Ted told him it was Mickey Santa actually gasped. Santa had to ask Big Sled Ted what he and Mickey had been up to for a whole year. So Ted told him the story. Santa went up to Mickey and asked him, “Mickey, can you fly my back to the North Pole with Donner?”
Mickey was thrilled at that opportunity.
It was a long flight. In fact, it was the longest flight Mickey had ever flown. And he had never pulled a sleigh before.
With Santa and his friend Big Sled Ted in Santa’s sleigh, Mickey and Donner got them home in no time. Upon arrival, Mickey was a little tired but he was happy beyond words.
Santa too was very happy.
“You are mighty, Mick” Santa said. “I’m so impressed with your power, your speed and your hard work.”
Nobody could have said kinder words to Mickey. Big Sled Ted was so proud and he told Mickey, “The Mighty Mick! I like it. I like it!” So from that point forward they called him The Mighty Mick.
Big Sled Ted sought permission to enter The Mighty Mick in the Reindeer Games this year.
There were some elves opposed to that because The Mighty Mick had not gone to reindeer school like all are required to. But Santa sat down with the qualifying committee and they all decided that if The Mighty Mick could win in the qualifying competition during Christmas in July then he could be exempted from the usual requirements.
Of course, The Mighty Mick did very well in qualifying competition.
The rest of the story you know. The Mighty Mick won and now he gets to enjoy the reward all the reindeer want to earn in winning the games: a choice assignment from Santa on Christmas Eve.
Those discussions were held this past weekend and only Santa, Big Sled Ted and the Mighty Mick know what that assignment will be.
Will we ever learn what Mickey gets to do on Christmas Eve? Santa says maybe. I guess it depends on how Christmas Eve goes.
The lessons here from The Mighty Mick and from Big Sled Ted are many. The most important is that the size of the heart is more important than the size of the body. For The Mighty Mick it means fulfilling a dream that began generations ago in his family.
He may prove to be the most legendary of them all.