All the Whos in Whoville

The very first book I learned to read on my own was How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I still love that book— I even have “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” on my iPod.

I have the reputation of being the family Grinch. Not because I’m trying to ruin anybody else’s holiday, but because I can never think of anything to put on my Christmas wish list. The truth of the matter is that I have everything I need and most of what I want, and bringing anything else into the house just adds to the clutter. Or else it would be a purchase so idiosyncratic that I want to pick it out myself.

Quite frankly, my idea of the perfect holiday is Thanksgiving, or Memorial Day, or maybe even the Fourth of July. You hopefully get to take the day off of work, get together with friends and family, cook an elaborate meal, and eat leftovers for a week. Perhaps there’s a parade, or a concert in the park.

But there certainly isn’t the unending drumbeat of anxiety that is the modern American Christmas. Am I buying enough? Am I buying the right things? Is the house clean enough? Are the decorations elaborate enough? Have I personally chosen the absolutely perfect gift for every single person who, however fleetingly, touched my life this year? What are other people giving for gifts? How do my gifts compare? Am I worshipping correctly? Are other people worshipping correctly [0]? Will God employ The Smite because I’m getting over the flu and don’t want to attend midnight services?

There are people who love Christmas. They want Christmas year-round. They love the decorating, they love shopping, they love baking eight dozen cookies [1], they even love that stupid party game where everybody brings something cheap to a gift exchange and when it’s your turn to pick a present you can unwrap a new one or steal one somebody else has already unwrapped [2]. And all power to you.

For myself, I think the best gift for the holidays would be for people to just chill out for a bit. Don’t put yourself into a tizzy trying to fulfill some unobtainable Norman Rockwellesque fantasy of The Perfect Christmas The Kids Will Remember For The Rest Of Their Lives. If you do, you’ll just be trying to top it next year, anyway.

I have always suspected that when the Whos woke up that Christmas morning and found their houses had been ransacked, a sizable portion of them were relieved. No more pressure. No more comparing themselves with their cousins. They could just go out and sing carols and have a good time. Like those summer evenings when the power goes out and instead of sitting inside watching TV all the neighbors hang out on their porches and play in the streets and have actual conversations.

And then the Grinch had to bring everything back and ruin it all.

[0] Seriously, how is the “War on Christmas” thing a thing?
[1] Christmas cookies are the zucchini of winter. Random strangers have been known to accost you in the street and force cookies on you. Even the Cookie Mafia (aka, the Girl Scouts) will take, “No, thanks, I don’t want any cookies today,” as an answer.
[2] If you must participate in one of those, bring lottery tickets. They’re inexplicably popular.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.