Wed, Dec 21, 2011 10:20 AM
Let's celebrate; it's the holidays! A time with family and
friends and lots of traditions, whether you identify most closely
with the Christian traditions of Christmas, the Jewish Hanukkah
rituals, Kwanzaa celebrations, the Pagan festivals surrounding the
winter solstice or simply the commercialized characters that
dominate children's stories. Candles are lit, songs are sung,
presents are exchanged and there is a sense of magic and mystery
that has pervaded this time of year through the millennium.
Kids are bursting with energy and anticipation. Families look
forward to their own unique traditions and reunions. Everyone seems
to be infected with holiday cheer. I dream about past celebrations
and the good times shared when everyone put aside differences and
difficulties and just enjoyed each other's company. Life was simple
and enjoyable and unchanging - At least that's how I remember
In truth, every year is different. Things evolve and change, and so
do people. Traditions, regardless of faith, ask us to reflect on
our lives and be grateful for
what we have. Holiday scriptures
(as well as fables) teach us to show our appreciation, practice for
forgiveness and have compassion for everyone - including the
I never liked that character. Nor did I understand the benefit of
forgiving such a mean-spirited individual, even if the Grinch was
born with a heart "two sizes too small."
But even the Grinch turns out to be just lonely and misinformed-
thinking the Who's holiday merriment is only superficial, he
"steals Christmas." Without gifts or decorations, the townspeople
are forced to reconsider the meaning of Christmas, which the best
gift of all.
Lou Lou Who was one of the first adults in Whoville to understand,
saying, "I'm glad he took our presents. You can't hurt Christmas,
Mr. Mayor, because it isn't about the gifts or the contest or the
fancy lights. That's what Cindy's been trying to tell everyone...
and me. I don't need anything more for Christmas than this right
here: my family." Cindy Lou had befriended the Grinch, despite his
past. She helps the townspeople to forgive and accept the Grinch
once he confesses to stealing their Christmas décor and
Children's stories, like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, do a
wonderful job illustrating the possibilities for good when one acts
out of compassion and forgives those who have done wrong.
Re-reading some of the classic stories this year, I also noticed
how many of the stories tell of parents' fallibility. Lou Lou Who
and the other parents of Whoville had gotten caught up in the
details, trying to out-do their neighbors decorations and win
contests. They needed the Grinch (and Cindy Lou) as much as he
needed them to recognize the true meaning of Christmas.
Misunderstanding (on both sides) was replaced with understanding,
compassion and forgiveness.
Are such lessons harder for adults to learn than for kids? It
seemed to be the case in Whoville and I think there's some truth to
that. Adults more often have the choice not to forgive wrongs or
misjudgments, harboring ill feelings. Kids, on the other hand, are
encouraged to apologize and work things out regardless of who
initiated the conflict.
So, in this most festive of season, as I reflect on compassion,
forgiveness and trust, I seek to see the world as a child, enjoying
new experiences, fresh and without judgment, and looking for the
good in everyone - including the Grinches.
It's easy to forget these lessons we learned as children, but the
forgiveness the Who's bestowed upon the Grinch will remind me of
the compassion necessary to restore the true meaning of the
There are similar tales in all traditions. May all adults be as
susceptible to these lessons as children this holiday season.