How The Grinch Stole Christmas: What We Can Learn Today


Over 60 years after its publication, Dr. Seuss’ sweetly compelling lines continue to ring with clear truth. How The Grinch Stole Christmas contains a holiday lesson that deserves not just internalization, but action. But, with a national political shift to the right, capital has ascended from king-ship to deity; the lessons from Dr. Seuss’s tale are pushed further to the ever-receding left. 

"And then he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

The story centers around the Grinch who lives atop Mt. Crumpit and vows to “stop this Christmas from coming.” The Grinch lives north of Who-ville, where the holiday is commemorated with gifts, mistletoe, roast beast, and song. With a heart three-sizes too small, the Grinch mobilizes, dressing up as Santa, tying a horn to his dog’s head, and sleighing down to Who-ville. He takes all the stockings, presents, trees, and feast fixings from the entire town and eagerly waits for dawn, anticipating loud wails from below. The Grinch is surprised to hear “Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small” singing, without any presents at all! He realizes that Christmas isn’t about gifts, and lavish meals, but about something more intangible. At that, the Grinch’s heart grows three-sizes and he returns all the Christmas trappings and celebrates with Who-ville. 

Politicians and pundits cry out to, “keep Christ in Christmas,” and ominously discuss the “war on Christmas.” It’s ironic these figures are often the ones bowing low before big business and profit, pushing us to purchase, and thereby evading the true spirit of this, or any, holiday.          

Dr. Seuss’ classic contains a vital lesson. In exhorting us to embrace pure joy for joy’s sake, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is a reminder that Christmas, and holidays in general, aren’t about things and caloric meals, but about celebrating an idea, a person, a spirit or, if your leanings aren’t religious, taking a day to spend time with family, friends, or perhaps just in early-winter quiet reflection. That’s it.

While this message is disseminated from the soapbox to the pulpit, actions speak louder than words, and there is little to be seen. Jesus is a fixture in many religions. Whether he’s man or myth, the celebration of a person who is said to have embodied love, without reservation or judgment, is something of which we should all take note. Attention must be paid, and our focus on things that come from a store keep us from remembering that Christmas means a little bit more.