Editor’s Note: Each weekday of Christmas, the Raven is delivering a favorite holiday article.
On the fourth day of Christmas, the Raven gave to me… Grinchy Redemption (Originally Published December 9, 2011), A Civil War Christmas Carol, The Real War on Christmas, and A Santa Claus Monstrosity!
“Give me your grinchiest look,” I said.
And he did.
My kids are watching the shows I grew up with. Is it shallow to say that this is one of my greatest experiences as a parent?
Birth. And then the Grinch.
I. Love. It.
My Wife has this call and response thing going on with our Youngest Son.
She’ll start, “You’re a mean one…”
And he responds, “Mr. Grinch!”
It’s one of those beautiful family moments that make us all smile.
Now that I’m watching these shows as an adult, I interpret them in a different light. Let’s stay with The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch who lived just north of Whoville did not.”
You know the story, but here’s a little refresher: The Grinch hated Christmas, the whole Christmas season. We are told that no one know just why, but most likely because his heart was two sizes too small. And those Whos down in Whoville, they were so loud in their Christmas celebrations, which drove the Grinch nuts. He hated the Whos. The Grinch devised a plan to stop all that Who noise. He came up with an awful idea, a wonderful, awful idea. He tried to stop Christmas from coming by stealing the Whos’ presents, Christmas trees, and food. Well, you know that by the end his heart grew and he was transformed.
But how did it happen?
I’d like to explore with you how Dr. Suess could have told the story. After the Grinch stole Christmas, the Whos could have united in hatred against the Grinch. You can imagine the Whos coming together and yelling, “The Grinch hates us! Well we hate the Grinch!” That’s how hate works. Once hate is unleashed, it spreads like a contagious disease, infecting ourselves and our relationships. United in their hatred the Whos could have come after the Grinch with pitch forks and guns. (Can you imagine little Cindy Lou Who running after the Grinch with a glock?) The Whos could have gotten a little Who justice. They could have taught the Grinch a lesson by locking him up in Who jail.
MSNBC would have loved that!
Of course, the Whos reflected hatred of the Grinch would have only increased his hatred for them. He would have become even grinchier … and then the Whos hatred of the Grinch would have increased even more until soon Whoville would have suffered from Who Armageddon!
Dr. Seuss could have told that story, but, fortunately for us, he wanted to tell a story of redemption. Anthropological genius that he was, Dr. Seuss shows us the only way to redemption. You see, hate can spread throughout a community, but so can love. In order for our hearts to grow, we need to see the big, loving hearts of others. The Whos didn’t fall into the Grinch’s trap of hatred. They didn’t allow his hate to infect their lives. Rather, they modeled a different way of life: A life of community, joy, and love. When the Grinch saw their Christmas joy as they stood hand in hand welcoming Christmas, his heart grew.
And when the Grinch brought back their toys, Christmas trees, and food, the Whos made space for the Grinch. He joined their Christmas celebration and he ate at their table.
Near the end of the movie, the Whos sing in the presence of the Grinch, “Welcome Christmas, while we stand heart to heart and hand in hand.”
In part, that’s what Christmas is about. Making space for the Grinches in our lives and hoping that maybe, just maybe, even our own Grinchy hearts will grow.
(You can watch Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas below.)