The Rudolph Syndrome

Posted on December 10, 2012

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It seems the Red Hat Society may have some competition at this time of year. If dressing up in purple and red attire and hats wasn’t enough for you older gals, I would like to mention a strange phenomenon called the “Rudolph Syndrome” that shows up around Christmas time and always coincides with the annual luncheon for my “Over Fifties” aerobics class. Let me share this odd behaviour…

As far as I know, the first recorded incidence of Rudolph Syndrome showing up at the gym came a few years ago, when I was asked to help organize a Christmas get-together for all the ladies in our fitness group. There were the general questions as to what, if any, activities were expected at the Christmas gathering, and whether holiday attire was appropriate. That’s when the light-bulb moment happened. To the surprise of the ladies at that luncheon, a set of antlers appeared on my noggin. Just a small set of antlers really, nothing garish. I just felt a need to share a bit of holiday fun – and it was good for a laugh.

The next year, the antler headband appeared again, this time with a bit of silver tinsel  and bells added. (Every gal enjoys a touch of bling, ya know.) And, as an added feature, a solitary, red plastic globe with an elastic loop attached, was just waiting for a nose. With a quick toss over my head, the little, red, blinky light engaged and the Rudolph Syndrome became more embedded in the luncheon’s festivities. I couldn’t help myself.

Rudolph and a few of the other festive reindeer

Rudolph and a few of the other festive reindeer

Last year’s Christmas luncheon kicked the Rudolph Syndrome into high gear. Rudolph (yours truly) apparently was a bit lonely being a solo player, so eight other blinky noses magically were added to the absurdity. At that point, there were nine mature (?) ladies donning (as in Donner, Dancer and Vixen) red flashing noses, prompting the others to join in with singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and other carols. It was a movement in the making …

As sensible women who should act their age (but rarely do when we’re in a group), the merriment behind closed doors seemed to be just what was needed in our busy lives. It was a gathering of jovial believers in the magic of “the nose”. A short quiz of random knowledge about Christmas was presented, and those that were deemed child-like at heart were chosen to wear the coveted blinky noses. The beacon/nose count grew to about a dozen gals, with one lively lady decked out in red blinky Christmas earrings as a nice touch.

My alter ego Rudolph

My alter ego Rudolph

Everyone was having a jolly ol’ time, until the fateful carolling began. Sure, all the ladies chimed in on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (by this time a no-brainer), but then it all fell apart. Call it a collective “brain fart”. It was as if somebody unscrewed the collective “light bulb” as far as remembering the lyrics. You see, we started singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and couldn’t remember any words past “figgy pudding”. Sad isn’t it. I’ll have to leave a reminder for next year’s function: bring the words to the Christmas carols!

As long as there’s cheap, flashing Rudolph noses to be had around Christmas time, the Rudolph Syndrome will continue; embellishment of antlers is purely optional, but embraced now. One of the best things about getting older is that you don’t care as much about appearances as having a good time. If that means wearing antlers and a funny nose or improvising the words to a carol, that’s just fine with me.

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