By Mary Ellen Eagan
Several years ago, I invited my husband, David, to opine on the deeper meaning of Rudolph. This was during a time when he’d been spending a LOT of time with our then 7-year old, watching nearly nightly. The post was well received, and I’ve been asking him since to write another. And since he is the Grinch in our family, it seems only fitting that he should respond with this.
Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) as 53 when he wrote “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, and he had a car with the personalized license plate: GRINCH. It’s not a stretch to think Ted Geisel saw a bit of himself in the Grinch. So if you occasionally get annoyed at Christmas, you’re in good company. If you don’t occasionally get annoyed at the shallowness, materialism, and consumerism of Christmas, you probably live on a mountain even farther from the rest of us than Mt. Crumpit is from Whoville.
Being an occasional Grinch does not mean you are an evil person; you aren’t even a bad person. Up there on your mountain of superior aloofness, staring down, hating all the Whos, you’re more of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch Zarathustra than Dicken’s greedy Scrooge. The Grinch, after all, has no interest in wrecking the Whos’ Christmas for personal gain; he takes all their goodies just to teach them a lesson. He’s the definition of a killjoy, with his heart two sizes too small. He’s a brother to Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and self-righteous atheist prigs who don’t want to let anyone have any fun or joy that they either can’t or won’t let themselves enjoy. Sam and Richard want to teach us a lesson, too, with no personal gain that I can see (unless, of course, you buy their books).
But sometimes the teacher is the one who gets schooled. The Grinch isn’t completely lost in his own superiority; when he finally does stop to listen to the Whos, he can actually still hear them. It takes him a while – ‘til his puzzler was sore – to work out Who is right and who is wrong (not bad, not evil, just wrong), but he’s not so lost that he can’t change his path. And he’s not so foolish that he doesn’t recognize that he needs to change, even though 53 years of hating Christmas may have left him set in some of his ways. Don’t expect to see the Grinch hanging around Cindy Lou Who’s house like the reformed Scrooge haunting the Cratchit’s. But I think you’ll see him and Max out on the sled a bit more.
The Grinch was right all along about our Christmas. Our Christmas is shallow, consumerist, and materialist. But he was wrong about the Whos’. Their Christmas is none of that; their Christmas means a little bit more. On this, my 53rd Christmas, I wish you the blessings of family, friends, and the Christmas of the Whos.