“You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights … I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.”
– Lou Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie (2000)
Wait, isn’t the title of the book and movie really How the Grinch “Stole” Christmas? Why, yes it is. But the way we see it, didn’t the Grinch actually “save” Christmas?
We all know this classic story by Dr. Seuss about the cranky, mean, old Grinch trying to steal Christmas from all the Whos in Whoville. He snuck in late one Christmas Eve and stole the wrapped presents and cheerful decorations that awaited opening by the Whos on Christmas morning.
Why would anyone want to do this? Well, the Grinch lacked any joy in his life and his heart, we are told, was a tiny, shriveled little thing incapable of feeling anything for anyone other than himself. He really didn’t want all the pretty packages he stole, but he sure didn’t want the Whos to have them either. He was trying to steal the source of their Christmas joy.
The mistake the Grinch made was assuming the Whos’ joy was tied to all of their possessions, their gifts. As the Whos awoke Christmas morning, they were astonished that all their gifts and decorations had been stolen. At first, they weren’t too happy.
Can you imagine? How would we respond if robbers broke into our homes and stole our gifts and decorations just hours before we awoke? We would be looking to rip open all the gifts we’ve received … but there wouldn’t be any. All of the work. All of the money. All of the surprises. Gone!
Luckily, Lou Lou Who arrives on the scene and makes this declaration: “I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights … I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.”
Immediately Mr. Mayor, and all the Whos in Whoville, knew Lou Lou was right. They had been focused too much on the wrong things … competing with their neighbors for the most decorated home, the biggest gifts, and more. But after Lou Lou’s declaration, all the Whos began to celebrate Christmas, without the presents or decorations.
The Grinch was confused. Of course, we know he later learned that the key to the Whos’ Christmas joy wasn’t based on stuff—it was based on giving. And when they didn’t have presents to give anymore, they gave of what they had: themselves.
This was so moving that it changed the Grinch forever and his heart grew three sizes. The same person who wanted to silence others’ joy was now transformed into a joyous, generous giver himself.
You see, if it hadn’t been for the Grinch, all of Whoville just might be stuck to this day in their “Keeping up with the Joneses (or Whos)” lifestyles. And the Grinch himself would likely still be cranky and mean.
So, that’s how the Grinch “saved” Christmas … at least for Whoville.
What about your town? Your home? Your family? What is your focus this season?
This Christmas, may we allow our own hearts to be challenged. And, if we are lucky, our hearts too will grow three sizes, refocusing us once again on the true reason for this season called Christmas.
Wishing you a blessed season of holidays,
Bob and Susan Karcher