Remember that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer episode where Rudolph and Hermey the elf who wanted to be a dentist ran away from the North Pole because they didn’t fit in? The show is about how people who are picked on, don’t feel understood, are “different,” or feel that since no one understands them feel they need to run away from the world.
The pair end up in their travels on the island of misfit toys—a place where all the toys that are very different from normal toys such as a choo-choo with square wheels, a polka-dotted elephant, a Charlie-in-a-Box, or a toy boat that sinks instead of floats. Each of these toys feel like no child would want them, that they don’t belong in the world, yet each toy yearns to be loved by a child who will appreciate them for exactly what and who they are.
Something you might not have known about the original version was that in the first broadcast, Santa never picks up the toys and they remain childless. The public outcry was so huge because so many people fell in love with the misfit toys that they added a scene where Santa stops by to grab every single one of the toys.
How does this connect to us?
How many times, before you found others like you by finding a group of like-minded pagans or people, have you felt so alone? Felt like no one would want you because you are so different from the norm? Ever gone into a room and felt like no one here can understand the needs, wants, or dreams that dance through your head like sugarplums in a child’s old-fashioned Christmas dream?
I remember one time going into a college bar years ago when I was in a very pensive mood. I saw all these people chatting with other people and seemingly enjoying themselves, their drinks, and their companionship. Then I took another look at everyone there.
I could sense from almost everyone present a feeling of being alone in a crowded room. That’s when I realized that no matter who we are, we all feel at one time or another (sometimes more than just occasionally) alone.
We all feel like Trainer, the train with square wheels, or Birdfish, the bird who swims instead of flies. Even when we are in a group of friends or with other pagans in our coven, kindred, or grove, we can feel like no one gets us or that maybe no one cares. We feel like we are exiled from society and others on the island of misfit toys.
But the thing to keep remember about the change they made after the first showing of the show was to show that Santa does come back to get the toys so that they can find a home. The entire scene happened because people loved the misfit toys—they identified with them, they felt empathy and connection to them.
Why? Because most all of us, at one time or another, feel alienated and alone. Even in crowded rooms, even with friends, we can still feel alienated and alone.
If we keep that in mind that the new person who shows up at a ritual, a blot, a party, or a social event that you don’t know just wants to connect with others and not feel like a forgotten and unwanted toy, then we can put ourselves in others’ shoes, feel true compassion and connection with them, and then reach out to say:
“Who are you? I’m a misfit toy too.”