How to Be a Grinch

It’s hard to believe Christmas is only 3 weeks away! I love the Christmas season with its many traditions unique to this time of year. Beautiful grinch facemusic, favorite family recipes, parties, festive decorations and gift giving allow adults and children alike to anticipate the holiday. Add in a touch of white beauty from a glistening snowfall and it almost feels like magic.

Yet this season of magic can involve an equal portion of stress brought on by the extra planning, shopping and preparations necessary in order to enjoy the additional holiday activities. Sometimes this stress causes an unusual phenomenon to randomly occur at my house. I hate to confess it, but sometimes I turn into a Grinch. Yes, a Grinch. Much like the ugly green furry Dr. Seuss creature that sneaks into Whoville and tries to steal Christmas, I sometimes emerge from the shadows of a stressful day looking a little green and nasty.

How do I turn into a Grinch, you ask? Well, there is no yucky green potion to drink. I don’t step into a phone booth and slip into a fuzzy green costume. Turning into a Grinch is much easier than that. All I have to do is think about the wrong things and focus on the negative. When I do this, I am sure to lose perspective on what really matters. That’s when the green fur begins to appear (maybe) and the too-small heart takes over. Before I know it, I have turned into a Grinch, stealing Christmas from the little Whos living in my Whoville.

So what are the warning signs that I am about to turn into a Grinch? Here are a few:

*I do not enjoy decorating the Christmas tree because all I think about is vacuuming again.

*I don’t want to go Christmas shopping because I only see gifts as an obligation and I dread paying for them in January when the bills come due.

*I can’t enjoy Christmas baking because all I see is more dirty dishes to clean up.

*I dread Christmas social gatherings because I need the time to get my to-do list done.

There are other warning signs, but you get the idea. Usually the appearance of my Grinch-like state is preceded by a holiday activity that is supposed to be fun and meaningful but is being sabotaged by my stress-oriented negative perspective.

So what is the remedy, you ask? Much like the Grinch, I need to realize I am not going to stop Christmas from coming. Even if I don’t decorate a tree, or choose not to bake, or even give no gifts, Christmas will still come. The Whos in Whoville woke up to find nothing left of what they thought was Christmas, but they loved Christmas anyway and together sang for joy. In the words of Dr. Seuss, the Grinch’s realization that “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store; maybe Christmas is just a little bit more” is the reminder I need to keep perspective. We can have everything we need for Christmas without ever stepping foot in a store. Christmas is much more about a big heart than it is about a big wallet or a big feast. When I keep this truth in my mind, I can be sure my ugly green Grinch fur and too-small heart will not make an appearance this Christmas. And that would make it a wonderful holiday indeed.

So in the immortal words of Charles Dickens, spoken by Tiny Tim as he is carried on the shoulders of a transformed Scrooge, “God bless us, God bless us, everyone.”  From my Whoville to yours – may you enjoy a wonderful, Grinch-free Christmas season!

(this article first appeared in Ohio Family Magazine, December 2013; )

About Deb Ashley

At home, Deb is the wife of Mark and mom of three adult children. She enjoys cooking, taking care of a small but somewhat productive garden, feeding the local community of birds and other assorted critters, and taking naps with her dog Mandy. Her passions include teaching, writing and music. In the community, Deb enjoys working alongside her husband in his role as a pastor. She is involved in teaching and encouraging women from all walks of life through book studies, counseling, and speaking opportunities.
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