Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer may be one of the most beloved Christmas stories in history.
And now, a social media post about the "real" backstory of the book that inspired a song, several movies and countless holiday decorations might make it even more special.
In the Facebook group "Old Time Christmas Memories," a now-viral post explains the story behind Robert May's famous tale and how personal difficulties inspired it.
"It was the late 1930s in Chicago and Bob May wasn’t feeling much comfort or joy," the post reads.
"May was exhausted and nearly broke. His wife, Evelyn, was bedridden, on the losing end of a two-year battle with cancer. This left Bob to look after their four-year-old daughter, Barbara."
Though the post claims May wrote the story for young Barbara as a way to explain why her mother "wasn't like other mommies," May himself wrote in 1975 that Rudolph was actually based more on himself than anyone else.
In January 1939, Robert May was a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store.
Decades later, in the Dec. 22, 1975, issue of the Gettysburg Times, he wrote, "As I hurried on my way to work, I noticed the Christmas Street decorations had been taken down and in a way, I was relieved."
Because of his wife's illness, May wasn't feeling festive, he wrote.
There was more about May's glumness.
"Here I was heavily in debt at age 35 and still grinding out catalog copy. Instead of writing the great American novel as I'd once hoped, I was describing men's white shirts. It seemed I'd always be a loser."
But fate, and an idea for a "loser" reindeer with a giant red nose, were about to change everything.
On that very day, May's boss asked to see him.
The company had been handing out Christmas coloring books for years, but thought money could be saved if it created a book on its own.
May was charged with the task.
The reindeer was chosen, he said, for Barbara — who loved the deer at the zoo.
The idea for the red nose, he said, came to him later.
"Outside the fog swirled from Lake Michigan dimming the street lights. Something had to help Santa on a night like this," May wrote in the piece.
"Suddenly, I had it! A nose! A bright red nose that would shine through fog like a flood light!"
He named his soon-to-be world-famous reindeer Rudolph.
The boss wasn't sold on the red-nosed reindeer right away. But after he saw an illustration by May's friend Denver Gillen — that changed.
May started writing.
"Spring slipped into summer," May wrote, adding that his wife Evelyn's condition worsened.
Then, in July, "she was gone."
The boss told May it was understandable if he didn't want to continue the project.
"But I needed Rudolph now more than ever," he wrote.
"Gratefully I buried myself in the writing. Finally, in late August, it was done."
He read the story to Barbara and to his wife's parents.
"In their eyes I could see the story had accomplished what I had hoped," he wrote in the Gettysburg Times.
"Today children all over the world read and hear about the little deer who started out in life as a loser just as I did," May said.
"But they learn that when he gave himself to others, his handicap became the very means by which he achieved happiness."
May died in 1976, according to the Smithsonian Institute website.
It added that 2.4 million copies were given away in the first year of the book's sale.
Many millions of people have read, watched or heard the story of the inspirational reindeer in the 84 Christmas seasons since.
"My reward is every year when Christmas rolls around, Rudolph still brings that message to millions both young and old," May concluded in the news article.