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Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin-Bass. It was first aired in 1977, and its plot is similar to an earlier Rankin-Bass special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
The film is narrated by Santa Claus's donkey, Spieltote, voiced by Roger Miller. He tells the tale of a donkey with abnormally long ears named Nestor, who lived in the days of the Roman Empire. Every animal in the stable disliked Nestor because of his ears. One day the animals in the stable are celebrating the winter solstice. Nestor's mother gives socks to Nestor to cover his ears.
That night when Nestor is asleep, soldiers come from the Roman Empire. They pick a bunch of donkeys, including Nestor, but not his mother. Nestor tries to get away and one of the soldiers grabs the socks on Nestor's ears. They come off. The soldiers thought the owner of the stable was trying to trick them. The owner, Olaf, says he will give them Nestor for free, but the angry soldiers force him to give him all the donkeys for free and do not take Nestor. After the soldiers leave a furious Olaf throws Nestor out the door, saying that he doesn't care if he freezes to death. Nestor's mother escapes the stable and finds him. As a blizzard rages outside, and there is no indoor shelter to be had, Nestor's mother finds a small cove out of the wind and uses her body to shield her son from the storm. Nestor wakes up in the morning only to find that his mother didn't survive.
Later, Nestor meets a cherub called Tilly. She says they need to travel to Bethlehem, telling him "Your ears can do wondrous things no other ears can do. The sounds they hear will guide you on a path that's straight and true, and then you will save another, as your mother once saved you." They travel across the desert sands for many months, and when they finally get to the outskirts of Bethlehem, Tilly tells Nestor to wait. Even though he finds a rundown old stable, still nobody will buy him.
One day Mary and Joseph visit. Mary is expecting a child, and they do not have much money. They take Nestor because of his "gentle eyes", but are caught in a sandstorm. In the midst of the storm, Nestor hears Tilly's voice, but recognizes it as his mother's, and she tells him to follow the voices of the angels. Nestor guides Mary and Joseph through the storm, wrapping Mary in his ears, soon arriving at Bethlehem. They find a proper stable, where Mary subsequently gives birth to Jesus after which Nestor finds his way back home, where he is considered a hero.
Released with The Year Without a Santa Claus