Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Striving to be a Grinch

I admit it. 

I have no Christmas spirit this year. 

I'm not quite sure why.  Normally, I am very determined in my pursuit of the spirit of the season.  I decorate, bake, make gingerbread houses and shop and wrap with the best of them.  But I just can't seem to motivate this year.

Maybe it's because as much as I'd love to go out and buy the usual boatload of gifts for everyone in my life, I simply can't do it this year, and it saddens me to have my spirit of giving stifled by circumstance.  Combined with other personal challenges at the moment, it's exhausting to think of how much there is yet to do and how little I seem able to summon either the energy or the finances to do it.

However, I keep reminding myself of what I've always told my children: Christmas isn't about getting gifts or spending money, but is a spiritual reminder of the importance of giving of oneself to others, of remembering what's truly important. 

Which, of course, leads me to the Grinch.

Yes, the Grinch, that curmudgeon of coddled Christmas spirit, so jealous of the joy in others that he tried to steal it away in his effort to pull everyone down into his pit of grinchdom.  I've always found it curious that the Grinch is most commonly remembered for his lack of Christmas spirit (or "grinchiness") when in fact it's the eventual discovery of it within himself that seems the most important part of the story.  My favorite moment in  Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas is when he has his epiphany, and "...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."  It's that moment, when he opens his heart to love and sharing, when he holds out a hand to little Cindy Lou Who ("who was no more than 2") that has always held such poignance for me (and countless others, I imagine).

And as silly as it may seem to draw on an old children's story for my own Christmas spirit, the Grinch truly is an inspiration for me.  Part of it, I know, is that he was my father's favorite character, too.  My dad, one of the sweetest and most giving men I've ever known, always loved the Grinch best, and joked at being "grinchy" himself.  One Christmas, I made him a Santa hat with the word "Grinch" spelled out in glitter on the cuff.  He grinned beneath that hat proudly every year, and those Christmases are among my most cherished memories of him.

So this year, in spite of the current slump in which I find myself, I'm determined to find my Christmas spirit however I can.  I'll decorate the tree, snap precious pictures of the annual Gingerbread House Decorating Day with my daughter and niece, and wrap whatever presents I can give.  I'll remember my dad smiling around his pipe with that silly hat on his head, and I'll remember to count my blessings of past, present and future.  I'll remind myself, too, that Christmas is more than what I can put under the tree, and will bring smiles and laughter even "without packages, boxes or bags." 

In fact, I'm going to try to be the best Grinch I can be...

Do you have a favorite Christmas character?  Any special Christmas memories wrapped around Rudolph or Frosty or the Grinch?  How do you find your own spirit of the season? 
Feel free to share in comments! :)


  1. I was terribly "Grinchie" for many years after my mother died. It was too hard to feel merry and then remember that I'd buried my mother Christmas eve morning. But I did Christmas for my girls and eventually, my "Grinchie" side changed back to the epiphanied side. Now I just enjoy the reason we even have Christmas, I do the best I can with the limited funds I have now that I don't work full time and try to make sure the girls see the real 'reason' rather than the commercial one.

    And I LOVE Max! :D

  2. I think that's all we can do, sometimes, isn't it? Focus on the spiritual side, and on the opportunity to spend extra time with family and friends...and with such a loss associated with the holiday, I imagine it was so very hard for you to summon the spirit at all sometimes... {hugs} I am glad your "Grinchie" side has subsided and you can find joy in the season. :)
    And yes, we do the best we can to show our kids it's not all about the gifts under the tree...these days, that can be a tough one, though!

    I always loved Max, too! :) Love it when he slides under the sleigh and hops up on the back! lol