By Jacki Wood, That they might have joy column for the Nodaway News Leader
I find myself feeling a bit cynical right after Thanksgiving each year.
I’m not sure why since it doesn’t make much sense logically. We spend time with family and give thanks as we kick off the holiday season and prepare for Christmas, a time of year that I love.
It might have something to do with Black Friday. I tried to go once with my mom and sister about 10 years ago. It was a disaster. I hated it so much and was so grumpy that we went back home before they were even done shopping.
Not judging here. It’s just not for me.
It might also have something to do with the expectations we perceive as the holidays approach. Having the perfect decorations, getting the best gifts, doing amazing activities with our children. Blah. Blah. Blah.
The commercialization of the holiday season in general contributes to my bah humbug attitude. Which is probably why I return each year to one of my favorite Christmas stories, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” by Dr. Seuss.
A bitter, nasty creature with a heart “two sizes too small,” the Grinch despises the people in Whoville as they merrily celebrate the season.
Annoyed, he decides to steal all of their presents, and even the tree, hoping to stop Christmas from coming.
But when the people awoke, they were not sad. Instead, the Grinch heard them singing.
“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
“Somehow or other, it came just the same!
“And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
“Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?
“‘It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!’
“‘It came without packages, boxes or bags!’
“And he puzzled three hours, 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!’”
In the end, the Grinch has a change of heart, which grows three sizes, and he enjoys the Christmas feast with the people in Whoville.
The story of the Grinch came about when Theodor Geisel, who wrote as Dr. Seuss, was looking in the mirror the day after Christmas and noticed a “very Grinch-ish countenance” in the mirror.
“So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost,” he said.
Maybe it’s how the Grinch looks, or even his name, but many people just think of him as the villain and not the hero he turns out to be.
Geisel once received a letter from two brothers with the last name “Grinch.” They were being teased because of their name and asked him to change the character’s name.
His reply was that the Grinch was actually the hero of Christmas.
“He starts out as the villain,” he wrote to them. “But it’s not how you start out that counts.”
I love that. We all need that reminder. No matter what we’ve done, we can change our actions and our attitudes. It’s not too late to see what it is about Christmas that we’ve lost.
So if you’re like me, feeling a little Grinchy already this holiday season, it’s okay. We still have time to “rediscover Christmas.”
“It’s not how you start out that counts.” It’s where you go from here.