Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Grinch and the True Meaning of Christmas

What happened then?
Well, in Whoville they say
that the grinch's small heart
grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
and the grinch found the strength of ten grinches,
plus two.

The 1966 cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is my all-time favorite Christmas special. I know last year I gave Heat Miser and Snow Miser the prize for "most entertaining," but this cute little cartoon about the Grinch is a masterpiece.

How much do I love this cartoon? Let me count the ways: (1) the fun poetry of it, read to perfection by Boris Karloff, (2) the humor and nonsense, beautifully captured in fanciful drawings, (3) the fabulous You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch as well as other delightful songs.

Plus this special has a very merry Christmas message for me and all of my not-quite-Christian friends who like to celebrate Christmas:

And he puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore,
then the grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store;
maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more...

See? Christmas isn't just an orgy of consumerism -- it means more than that.

But what?

The cartoon makes it very clear. Christmas is all about joy of celebrating and sharing traditions from one generation to the next.

It's easy to get disgusted with Christmas. It's this ever-escalating festival of gorging oneself, and then -- like some sort of penance for all the gorging -- getting reminded that you're supposed to be thinking about Jesus. But if Jesus were really the true meaning of Christmas, the clergy wouldn't have to keep reminding people of it. And if you believe in the standard model -- either Christmas is consumerism or it's Jesus -- then you've missed the warm and simple reason why the mid-winter festival of lights has been such a beloved and enduring tradion across so many different centuries and cultures.

So -- to my theist and atheist friends who celebrate Christmas as I do -- Merry Christmas!!!

And for all the other holidays you're celebrating this holiday season: Happy Holidays!!!

Be sure to share and pass along whichever holiday traditions you loved as a kid: decorating, singing, preparing holiday treats, etc. And feel free to join me in one of my favorite holiday traditions: watching The Grinch.


Anonymous said...

I've always liked the Grinch. It is a great story. I don't watch much TV and my kids have outgrown all the kids' specials, so I probably won't see any of the specials, movies, etc., that play at this time of year.
Still, I'm celebrating Christmas as a time to be with family and a time to decorate the place a bit and just enjoy general festivities.

Anonymous said...

If only Doctor Seuss had written a book in the bible....

Aerin said...

I will have that song in my head all day "You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch...". Thanks chanson!! (grrr)

littlemissattitude said...

I don't think my family ever really had many Christmas traditions.

The one I always liked best, however, was that every three years or so, my immediate family (my mother and father and I) would opt out of the larger family Christmas thing, get up really early on Christmas day, and take a day-long drive. In southern California, where I grew up, there were plenty of possibilities of places to go, and there was always some restaurant along the road that would be open where we could have a stress-free (and dishwashing-free) Christmas dinner.

We started doing this because every year my dad's family wanted to get together at our house, someone was always late, and then my mother was always left with the mess to clean up afterward. So, we just would run away from home for Christmas once in awhile.

But one year, instead of running away from home for Christmas we ran to home. You see, my dad spent a lot of time working away from home for several years. He'd be gone a month or six weeks at a time, and since it was just the three of us, my mother and I would usually go along and we'd live in a motel room with a kitchenette or an apartment. If it was during school, I'd either take my books along from my regular school, or I'd go to school where we were. A couple of years during that time, we were away from home for six months or more out of the year. I loved it.

Anyway, when I was in the fifth grade, we happened to be down in the desert at Christmas. We were living in a motel and had gotten a motel-room sized Christmas tree, had the presents under the tree, and were going to celebrate there because my dad would only have Christmas day off work. But it turned out that he got off work early on Christmas Eve and he decided on the way in that he wanted to have Christmas at home.

So, we loaded the Christmas tree, all the presents, and a change of clothes into the car (interesting experience, sharing the back seat of an original-style VW bug with a Christmas tree for a couple of hundred miles) and drove from Blythe to Simi Valley. We got in about midnight, set up the tree and put the presents underneath, went to bed, got up Christmas morning and opened presents, lounged around for awhile and then got back in the car and headed back to Blythe. That was the coolest Christmas. :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Chaplain!!!

True, when the kids grow up it's hard to find an excuse to watch The Grinch. Growing up is sad sometimes... ;^)

Hey Hoverfrog!!!

That would definitely be interesting. And undoubtedly an improvement on the Bible's actual content. ;^)

Hey Aerin!!!

I love that song!!! You're right to be thanking me!!! :^P

Hey Ima!!!

Wow, that sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas!!! :D

Cyn Bagley said...

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas too.

I enjoy the music, but not the shopping. We decided not to do the consumer thing when we married. It was the happiest day of my life. LOL.

So now we look at lights, listen to music, sometimes see the fireworks if there are any... and that's the best of it.

And then, we do our shopping in January. White sales, you know.

Anonymous said...

I love the Grinch. Best story ever!

And I'm with you chanson: Christmas isn't about consumerism or Jesus-only. It's about what's good in humanity. It's about tradition and family. It's about peace. At least, that's what it is for me.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, Blessed Festival, Peace!

C. L. Hanson said...

H.H. and M.C. to you too, Cynthia!!!

I'm completely with you on this one. I don't like shopping for its own sake, so I'd love it if I could have the traditional festival atmosphere without the focus on presents.

Happy Holidays to you too, Mabel!!!

I agree completely, and you've put it very well. :D

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Dr. J.!!!

I hope the story is useful if you're working with people in similar situations.

When you say "Please don't post this..." do you mean you want me to delete your comment so it isn't visible to others?

The Exterminator said...

I'm a little too old to have grown up with the Grinch on TV, so I'd have to say that my favorite media Christmas memory is "Babes in Toyland" which was shown one time only -- live! -- when I was not quite six years old. My mother knew all the songs from the score, since the original operetta was already considered a classic by the time she was a child. She had taught some of those songs to me before the TV show was aired and I was thrilled to be able to sing along.

Shortly thereafter, I discovered the old Laurel and Hardy version of B in T, which is also called "March of the Wooden Soldiers." I highly recommend that one.

SuccessWarrior said...

Christmas is all about family and traditions. I never forget the true meaning of Christmas though because I don't like the cold and am always thankful when the Sun rises and starts its journey back to the northern hemisphere.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Exterminator!!!

That sounds wonderful!!! Some of the music from Babes in Toyland has been in my Christmas Carol rotation since I was a kid, but I've never actually seen the piece.

Hey Success Warrior!!!

Yeah, I don't like the cold or the dark, so I'm very happy to have a festival of lights tradition to look forward to until the point where the days start getting longer. :D

LG said...

I love the Grinch as well ... I still have a very worn hardback edition of the book from when I was a kid.

Found your blog from hm-uk, who commented on mine ... nice to meet you!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey LG!!!

Great to meet you!!! I see your blog says you're a former Mormon, so I'll be adding you to Outer Blogness. :D

I don't have my grinch book from when I was a kid, but I bought a new copy for my kids, and I love to read it to them in my best Boris Karloff voice. ;^)

Anonymous said...

Hey Hoverfrog,

The Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall did a sketch on their TV show called "The Dr. Seuss Bible," and it was fantastic. It starts with Dave Foley in a Cat in the Hat-type striped hat, reciting:

"One day the Lord said
this is what I will do
I will send down my son
I will send him to you
To quiet this huckety-buckety
His name will be Christ
and he'll never wear shoes
His pals will all call him
The King of the Jews!"

and so on. The rumor I heard was that some members of the tech crew refused to work on the sketch because they found it offensive, so the Kids had to build the sets themselves. If so, they did a great job!

The series is available on DVD, and that sketch was in either season 1 or 2, if you're curious.

Unknown said...

"True, when the kids grow up it's hard to find an excuse to watch The Grinch. Growing up is sad sometimes... ;^)"


I've watched the Grinch and Lorax the last few weeks. One can never get enough Dr. Suess.

As for Xmas, we are trying to get the family together. NO consumerism, just good food, good drinks, and good memories. If we're lucky, we'll make some more of the latter.