The premise of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas is simple enough: furry, green man-beast has a heart that’s two sizes too small. The lack of room therein leaves no room for it/him to love Christmas. So much so that he hates the holiday and steals an entire town’s Christmas presents and decorations, lies about his identity to a toddler all in an effort to ruin an entire town’s Christmas celebration.
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However, once he has a spirit of Christmas Aha Moment, he realizes the season isn't about all the packages, ribbons and bows. He repents and is forgiven of all aforesaid badness, and ends up loving Christmas and carving the Roast Beast himself in celebration.
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I love that story. I think a lot of us do.
Here's the thing: after honest soul searching, I think I love it because it affords me the high road, especially this year. This year has been The Year of Being an Adult with Adult Challenges. I can easily identify the Grinchly areas of, and Grinchly people in, my life that/who are associated with these Adult Challenges (said with a condescending, pious gaze) all who are working to stop me from enjoying Christmas as I know it. (or so it seems if I think on it too much.)
Seriously. All I need are big red arrows like those styrofoam We’re Number One fingers and I can stick ‘em on those Grinchly areas in my life and Grinchly people, even as I piously (and sincerely) give credit and all kinds of love to my husband for carrying my emotions and me throughout this tough year.
But, tonight as I found myself fighting against my brain’s interrupting, nagging, nudging and complaints about the Grinchly areas and peoples all while the children’s choir innocently sang Away in a Manger at the Christmas program, the most worrisome thought intruded (because the truth is always worrisome):
What if I’M The Grinch in all this?
Crap. What if I am?
But, Rochelle, you say That's impossible. You love Christmas. You know the songs, you love the spirit, you love the carols, dressing the tree and the whole house. You don't hate Christmas. You’re not a Grinch. All you want is peace on earth. Just like the songs and the scriptures -- THE SCRIPTURES -- for Heaven’s sake, say.
And I’d say you’re right. But is it possible I’ve let the aforementioned Adult Challenges shrink my heart's capacity to hold Christmas spirit and grow my brain's capacity to worry about:...
...the unknowns and situations I can’t control
even as I want and desperately need to reconnect with the reality of parents from long ago who faced an unplanned pregnancy of the most unplanned kind there has ever been, but had everything work out in the end.
...that no one really ever really sees the ruse of “the man behind the curtain” while the “little people” struggle daily
even as I want and desperately need to reconnect with the reality that the best news ever known to mankind was first shared with illiterate, blue-collar workers. Not the top fat.
...when will things be easy, and why can’t we ever catch a break, for the love of pete
even as I want and desperately need to reconnect with the reality that the Kid whose birth I’m so excited about in the first place never had it easy, was poor (although we’d call it economically disadvantaged in nonprofit-speak), was always misunderstood and treated pretty crappy but still found a way to love everything and everybody and have peace within.
Yeah. All of that.
Guess I wanted that Christmas feeling, but was so busy blaming the Grinches for not feeling the feeling, that I forgot about the reality of Christmas in all it’s hopefulness and ugliness.
I forgot that it isn't always about the Grinches, the Christmas Haters or even the supposed War on Christmas.
Sometimes it’s about the Grinch in the Mirror. He’s not always a green, furry man-beast. Sometimes he’s a forty-something-year-old mom who believes she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.Time to grow my heart and shrink my brain, because this isn't a Dr. Suess story, after all.
This is life, and no one's promised another day or Christmas to get it right.