Joy Reynolds the curator and the owner of the art exhibition centre shows the piece of paper that has a xmas story which she started reading when she was 11 yrs old.Picture Zanele Zulu,20/12/2011

A woman’s love for the comic section in what was then known as the Natal Daily News has turned into a cherished 50-year Christmas family tradition.

Joy Reynolds (61) will be reading The Reluctant Reindeer this Christmas Eve during dinner with her family in Morningside – a tradition she has kept alive for more than two decades. The story was part of the Christmas edition of the 1961 Count Curly Wee series by Maud Budden and Clibborn.

Count Curly Wee was a popular comic strip that featured in the Daily News during the 60s. Reynolds said she fell in love with the comic as an 11-year-old while attending school at Chelsea Drive Primary in Durban North.

“I used to anticipate the arrival of my parents in the evenings from work because I was so eager to read the comic,” she said

The comic strip that is read around the Reynolds Christmas table every year, interestingly appeared in the Daily News on this very day 50 years ago.

“It is such a good story. Every child deserves to read it. It moved me. I find it a touching story. It’s a historical story that children can learn from,” she said.

The comic strip is about Santa Claus’s reindeer that refused to ride the sleigh on Christmas Eve, preventing him from delivering presents to the people of the world. Shocked by the reindeer’s reluctance, Santa grabbed his magic telescope and made the reindeer look through it, so that he could see the many people who hung their stockings and were excited, waiting to see what gift Santa would leave for them.

Among the many excited people appeared a lonely and poor mouse that did not have a stocking at all. He was sad as he had never received any presents before. The reindeer saw that the mouse’s happiness depended on Santa’s arrival and was then eager to deliver presents to people.

Reynolds said what touched her most in the story was that the mouse did not have a sock at all, and this made her realise how lucky she was.

“It made me realise that I am lucky to be blessed because there were presents in my socks. I sympathised with the mouse. The story taught me to be generous and made me think of others.

“It creates awareness that there are people less fortunate.”

Fifty years ago Reynolds cut out and kept a copy of the story. Little did she know at the time that the comic strip would become a focal point for family Christmas dinners.

She said her children also appreciate the story and cherish it because it is part of their Christmas tradition, which is why on Tuesday Reynolds made a copy for her son to read to her grandson Aiden (2) until he is old enough to read it for himself.

Reynolds is now the owner of the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery in Florida Road and believes that reading comic stories like this could help get children to enjoy a fun way of reading, “especially since these are cartoons. Children love cartoons”.