Scrooge and The Grinch — now there’s a guy and a creature who have been mischaracterized. We chastise those lacking holiday spirit by invoking their names. Why? Sure, they had their dark times, but in the end both came through. They became better versions of themselves and should inspire us. It’s not hard to see why Scrooge and Mr. Grinch were initially negative on the whole holiday thing. The Grinch wasn’t so bad as he was lax in giving Whomankind the benefit of the doubt as to knowing what was truly important to them, but give him credit for spotting the perils in runaway consumerism as a lousy proxy for expressing love. He was not wrong about that, he was simply too bitter in his expression of it. Undoubtedly, jealousy and envy had something to do with his misery, too, but he still made a good point.
Scrooge, on the other hand, was just cheap. He didn’t like the idea of expressing affection through gift giving, not because he was worried about materialism displacing the substance of affection, but because he thought it was a waste of money. He was selfish more than skeptical.
It’s important to note that, as far as we know, neither was environmentally motivated to come down hard on the excesses of The Holidays and how society could actually become more with less. This is noteworthy, even though we’re talking about fiction, because it demonstrates that we can have other strong motives to reduce, reuse, and recycle other than saving the planet. You would think preserving the human race would be enough, but we have pretty much proven that it isn’t. There’s no immediate gratification there. But simplifying, decluttering and finding true joy in the essentially important things in our lives does. This aims toward our higher purpose.
We need a collective mindset alteration. We say this is the Season of Giving, but Scrooge and The Grinch both saw it for what it really is: The Season of Getting. I wish I had a new pair of skis. I wish I had a new car. I wish I could take a vacation to a far-away exotic place. We can think bigger than this. How about: I wish I could have peace of mind and live without distraction from discovering meaning. That cuts to the chase, doesn’t it?
The Grinch thought he could achieve this by taking all the Whos’ presents and dumping them off Mount Crumpet’s precipice. Evidence that he was right presented itself when all Whos down in Whoville came out at dawn and sang more merrily than ever anyway, presumably because they weren’t distracted unwrapping presents and wondering when they would find the time to exchange stuff. Seeing this for himself, The Grinch should have let go of the sled full of loot and let it vanish into the abyss. (Note: it would have been better to take it to the landfill for sorting and potential recycling, but let’s not get stuck on that for now.) I think history will show that he made a big mistake in taking all that junk back to the townspeople.
Scrooge had it figured better. His mere presence at his nephew’s house on Christmas, after the ghosts had gotten to him, was enough to brighten the entire household. Then, he bought the biggest goose in the butcher shop for the Cratchet family that was dying the slow death of malnourishment. To top it off, he took on Tiny Tim’s health care costs, gave Cratchet a raise to enable him to better care for his family, and sprang for another lump of coal for the stove at the office to keep his employees from catching pneumonia. Not one ugly sweater without a gift receipt in the whole story of his redemption; Scrooge really did get it!
In the spirit of the season, then, I would like to leave you with a gift that fits this theme of “not necessarily less, but more meaningful.” It is based on faith, so I realize that it may not be the right size or style for everyone, so feel free to exchange it for something that fits. It is something I participate in mentally during shavasana at the end of my yoga sessions with eyes closed, breathing slow, and heart rate mellow. It is an imagined conversation between God and me, intimate and direct:
Roger, do you know that I love you?
Yes, Lord. I know you love me more than I can know.
Roger, do you love me?
Yes, Lord, I love you as much as humanly possible.
Roger, do you love me enough to trust me to take care of everything I have given you?
Yes, Lord, I trust you with everything I have.
Roger, do you need anything else today?
And, this is where something remarkable happens almost every time I go through this Q&A. I reflect for a moment and almost always answer honestly:
Thank you, Lord, I think I have everything I need.
Roger Marolt wishes you peace on Earth and goodwill to humankind. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.