Last week I talked about how much I love Christmas…the spirit, the lights, the trees, the music. It was, therefore, a bit of a letdown when I discovered I had married a Grinch.
In his classic, Dr. Seuss’s character is cynical about everything to do with Christmas. He despises the Whos in Whoville for their rapture about “the whole Christmas season.” And then he hatches a plot to take away all their presents, lights, feast…he even “stuffs up the tree.”
My Grinch isn’t quite that extreme and would never take away something that makes another person happy. But he sits quietly on the sidelines engaging in non-participation. The obligatory gift for me is usually purchased Christmas Eve. One year I got a cast iron frying pan because it’s a useful gift. From that day forward I gave him a list or I purchased and wrapped my own gift. On Christmas morning I’d open my present with anticipation and gush over its contents.
The kids never knew the difference.
His role, out of necessity, was to haul the tree into the house and fit it into its stand. No lights were strung, no ornaments hung, no stockings filled, no gifts purchased or wrapped. When I pouted profusely, he’d sometimes give in and help with outdoor lights, dutifully testing them before climbing on the ladder to affix them with great precision to the house.
He’s an engineer.
I often wondered if perhaps Christmas wasn’t a big deal in his home growing up. But his mother spent many holidays with us before she passed away and loved all the preparations and fun. I then thought perhaps it was a “guy” thing. But my son, all grown up with his own family now, is as nutty about the holidays as I am.
My conclusion: Grinches are made, not born. And Grinches can change.
Dr. Seuss’s character had a powerful epiphany. When he saw that the Whos still celebrated Christmas without the glitter and gifts, he realized it was the spirit that was celebrated and he changed.
My Grinch has mellowed over the years. He’s still non-participatory, but he smiles at all the activity and I no longer hear grumbling when he looks at the credit card bill. I choose “useful” things to put on the list I give him and I still sometimes buy my own gift. And occasionally I can get away with filling the house with Christmas music. And like the storied Grinch, mine not only carves, but cooks the roast beast.
As Dr. Seuss said, “Christmas doesn’t come in a box.” Enjoy whatever holiday you observe. More next week about those things that did “come in a box.”