One of my favorite holiday pastimes is watching Christmas movies. Over the years, I have collected quite the library. Some of them are more modern releases, such as Arthur Christmas, Polar Express, and Elf. Others are Christmas classics, such as A Christmas Story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. In a strange twist of irony, the newest addition to my collection is actually the oldest, White Christmas. New or old, it doesn’t really matter to me. I love a great Christmas movie.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the original animated version, has been one of my favorites since I was a child. We used to watch it every year when it came on network television. While I have yet to watch it this Christmas season, it has been running on repeat in my head. In the original film, we aren’t given a backstory. The narrator simply says that the Grinch hated Christmas, and no one really knew the reason why. He speculates that perhaps his shoes didn’t fit, his head wasn’t on quite right, or that his heart was “two sizes too small.” Then the Grinch himself takes over the story and begins bemoaning the things he hates about Christmas. Allow me to provide a few quotes…
- “Tomorrow I know, all the Who girls and boys, will wake bright and early. They’ll rush for their toys, and then, oh the noise! Oh, the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!!!”
- “Then the Whos, young and old, will sit down to a feast. And, they’ll feast, and they’ll feast. And, they’ll FEAST, FEAST, FEAST, FEAST! They’ll feast on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast! Raw roast beast is a feast I can’t stand in the least!”
- “Then, they’ll do something I hate most of all! Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, will stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. They’ll stand hand-in-hand, and those Whos will start singing! And they’ll sing, and they’ll sing! And, they’ll SING, SING, SING, SING!”
What the Grinch is really attempting to steal, then, is JOY.
As I look over the list of all the Grinch hates about Christmas, it occurs to me that what he hates most is that others are happy. What the Grinch is really attempting to steal, then, is JOY. None of the things that make the Whos happy really have any effect on the Grinch. Should he so desire, he could simply hole up in his cave and wait for the jubilation to pass. But, no! Rather than letting the Whos celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them, the Grinch feels the need to complain and to stop their joy from coming. There is a warning and a reminder that I believe are important for us to remember as we continue through this Christmas season.
BEWARE THE SPIRIT OF THE GRINCH WITHIN – As I listen to people talk about Christmas I find that the spirit of the Grinch threatens to rise up in many of us. We become frustrated by the crush of the crowds at our local stores. We are irritated by the inconvenience of increased traffic. We are aggravated by the requests, demands, and desires from our friends and family. We are annoyed by the songs that play over and over on the radio. And, little by little, our inner Grinch begins to steal the joy from within our own hearts. In some cases, our inner Grinch comes out, and we begin railing against the joy of others. As we become fixated on all the negatives, we slowly surrender our joy to our inner Grinch. The joy of Christmas isn’t really stolen from us; we surrender it.
CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT SO MUCH MORE – The message of the story is so close to hitting home. It is true that Christmas is about so much more than the stuff of the season. When our focus is correct, our joy is secure. The joy of Christmas is found in the work and person of Jesus, the baby born in a manger. Sometimes because of, and at times, in spite of the stuff of Christmas we have reason to “SING, SING, SING, SING!”
We must be careful not to mistake the stuff for the Savior to WHOM it points.
Christmas is a season of joy. If our focus is in the right place and our hearts are open, even the stuff of Christmas has meaning, purpose, and value. We must be careful not to mistake the stuff for the Savior to WHOM it points. When we fall into that trap the Grinch will rise and our joy will be forfeit. So, make some NOISE! Enjoy a FEAST! And, SING, SING, SING, SING! We have a reason to celebrate!