I am loving the new (2018) version of “The Grinch.”
I originally watched it with my toddler because it was narrated by Pharrell Williams, but I really like it because it gives the Grinch a backstory. Turns out, he hates Christmas because he was an orphan, and always alone at the holidays. This gives his character more depth than in previous versions of this well-known story.
When I was younger, I was the Grinch too.
Not everyone is happy at the holidays, and that was me until my 30s. I grew up in a family environment that was toxic and unhappy, and at every family holiday dinner, my older relatives would get drunk and argue. As I got older, I was on the receiving end of their hostility too, because I lived to the beat of my own drum and often tried to extricate myself from their codependent, toxic mess.
I didn’t think it was right to be in a family that just made me feel miserable about myself.
As soon as I was old enough to work, I would offer to work every holiday, sometimes double shifts. I wanted to passively avoid. I hated Christmas and blamed it on the commercialism and lack of the spirit of Christmas. But it turns out, the spirit of love and giving wasn’t missing from the holiday; it was missing from me.
I stole Christmas from my oldest daughter by staying home while her dad took her to family gatherings and not ever decorating cookies, putting up lights, or buying a tree. I got her one gift every year, thinking she got enough from her dad’s family that it didn’t matter.
She says she isn’t scarred for life, and doesn’t really remember the holidays. She says that she remembers good day-to-day things about her life growing up, and that is more important to her.
With my youngest, things have been different. I have been different, because this Grinch finally met Cindy Lou.
I learned that like the Grinch, I hadn’t stolen Christmas at all. It had been stolen from me years ago, and I had forgotten. Christmas is meant to be about love, so when you don’t have love, you can’t find the Christmas spirit either.
When I spent my first Christmas with my partner, he got me my own special tree—with ornaments in my favorite color—to put up. It was my first Christmas tree in my adult life. He also invites all of our friends over for a homemade Christmas Eve dinner that he puts together out of love and caring, and we share spiced wine and songs around the piano. His beautiful and giving heart has put life into our Christmas and made it full of joy, love, and magic.
Finally, I have found the joy of the Christmas season.
Like the Whos of Whoville singing around the tree after their presents are stolen, I have learned that, “It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags! 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.’”