Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Who Really Stole Christmas?

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel. You are as cuddly as a cactus, you're as charming as an eel. Mr Grinch. Your a bad banana with a greasy black peel.

We all know the Grinch stole Christmas, right? But who first stole Christmas from the Grinch?

In the remake movie version with Jim Carrey, we get a better glimpse at how the story began than we do from the old animated Dr Seuss version. You see, it all started out when the Grinch was just a boy. He was different, unique, even green and hairy.

At Christmas time, his teacher told all the students to bring in a special gift for the person they cared about, so he set about his task of diligently making a homemade gift for the little girl he had a crush on.

When the other kids laughed at him and his gift, he threw his gift across the room, and was so overcome with anger and humiliation, that he vowed to never celebrate Christmas again - and to never love again either. Due to hiding away alone in his mountain cave for years ,without giving or receiving love - his heart simply shrunk.

He allowed the memories of Christmases past, to determine how he would feel about Christmases of the future, and life in general. He adopted a permanent mindset laced with bitterness and negativity. If I were to describe how the Grinch may have felt inside, I would have to say:

He felt betrayed - and vowed to never trust anyone again.

He felt disappointed - and vowed to never expect good things to happen to him again.

He felt hurt - and vowed to never love anyone again.

He felt rejected - and vowed to never let other people get too close.

He felt embarrassed - and vowed to alienate himself from others so that he would never feel that way again.

He felt unloved - and vowed to believe that being unloved was better than the risk of sharing your heart.

Welcome to a peek into the mind of the Grinch - before he decided to steal Christmas  from others, and allowed it to be stolen from himself.

The trials, difficulties and painful emotions of life had stolen Christmas from his heart, and sadly, this mentality is not that far from reality.

All too often, we too allow past or present circumstances to define our attitudes about holidays, but also life in general.  There are many lessons we could pull from The Grinch, and although the movie does not overtly specify a Christian theme, it has a lot of biblical imagery.

For example, in both the cartoon and remake versions, we see the Grinch with an evil grin, with crooked fingertips poised together for a sinister plan. He exhibits a coldness of heart and is distanced and estranged from other people. In the same way, the real devil possesses these qualities too. Before he was tossed out of heaven, the devil's heart had become sinister and cold due to pride and rebellion against God.

The Grinch had a goal to deceive the people of Whoville and rob them in more ways than one. He didn't just want their presents and decorations, he wanted their hearts to become angry. The real devil has that same goal, and is hard at work every day, striving to cause us to sin in the hopes that our hearts will turn bitter.

Another commonality is that The Grinch was the master deceiver, adept at lying, even to the most innocent of innocent, like little Cindy Lu. The devil deceived the innocent couple Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, convincing them that God didn't really mean what He said when he told them not to eat from the fruit of the tree of life. He caused them to doubt the real meaning of God's Words, and to develop their own self-serving interpretation.

The Grinch's final deception was assuming the disguise of Santa - a symbol of joy and giving; a character that most people love, embrace and trust. The Grinch disguised himself as something pleasurable and good, when in fact he was evil and bad. He tricked Cindy Lu into thinking she could trust him, and that he was doing her a favor. In the same way, satan is the master deceiver today - often disguising himself as something good, so that we will want what he has, only to discover that we have given up much more than we gained.

In the same way that the Grinch walked around in broad daylight, in plain view of all the Who's in Whoville, the thief is in our midst too, disguised as something good or pleasurable.

He tempts us with sin, causes us to stumble in our faith, orchestrates trials in our lives, and longs to steal our joy. He fills our heads with lies that nobody cares about us, that we are worthless, that we are unlovable - just like the Grinch. He encourages us to hold onto bitterness, regret, and unforgiveness so that we will feel separated and alone.

The Grinch proceeded to carry out his evil plans to steal Christmas from Whoville, and to make matters worse, he took great pleasure in his evil thievery. In fact, the narrator in the movie says that the Grinch "steals Christmas with glee". 

In the animated version, the Grinch even slithers through the living room to steal the Christmas trees, holiday decorations and presents.. Hmmmm... sounds a little bit like a serpent --- the symbol of satan himself.

The root problem is not that the Grinch hates Christmas, but that he envies the joy and happiness that the Whos have in their hearts, Then he experiences anger and aggression because of this envy. He wants to hurt them, as he has been hurt, and he wants to have control over their emotions and their happiness.

The lyrics of the song summarize this analogy between the Grinch and the real enemy:

"a heart with an empty hole; garlic in his soul; no tenderness or sweetness; the king of sin; filled with poison; crooked and dirty; an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots; a soul full of gunk."

King of sin... coldness... deceit... evil.... theft.... sour.... an empty heart...poisonous....crooked... disgraced.... all words found in the movie, that are also found when we read about the character of satan. The ultimate mean one.

John 10:10 tells us that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, and that is exactly what the Grinch had in mind when he came up with his plan to steal Christmas from Whoville.

He wanted to steal their joy; kill their happiness; destroy their holiday.

He wanted to ruin their lives and dampen their future.

He wanted to crush relationships. He wanted to carry out his evil schemes in the hopes that he could steal so many precious things from them, that they would never celebrate or sing again.

He not only wants to steal the joy of Christmas from our holiday, but the joy of Christ from our heart.

On the surface, this movie could be interpreted as nothing more than an outcry against the commercialization of Christmas, but oh, how it really is about "something more".

John 10:10 also tells us that Jesus came to give us abundant life.

Now for the good part!!! I actually really enjoy watching this movie and laugh all throughout it, despite its' underlying evil plot, and my favorite part is when we witness the total transformation of the Grinch.

I especially love the scene in the remake version, where the Grinch is crying for the first time ever, and thinks he is "leaking". Then in that same moment, the clouds in the sky part, beautiful orange sunshine streaks burst through the clouds and fill the sky with a glowing light. (Click HERE if you would like to watch this scene)

Then.. something from the skies touches The Grinch's heart. He begins to feel all "toasty" inside - the warmth of love that has been absent for far too long - and his heart is changed forever.

Through the support and joy of his community, and a little heavenly intervention if I may, the Grinch transforms into something good, from something bad. He realizes that his total self absorption, lack of forgiveness, and bitterness has kept him captive in a world of complete alienation, filled with loneliness, discouragement and feelings of worthlessness.

Even though we know that the real-world grinch will never embrace redemption, what a wonderful scene it is, when the fictional Grinch finally comes to understand that Christmas really doesn't come from a store.....that Christmas truly is "something more".

Although the movie does not specify what that "something more" is - I think we all know. That "something more" is Jesus.

Only the love of Christ can cause someones hearts to grow three sizes and beat out of their chest. Only the love of Christ can cause us to "leak" tears of joy.

That "something more" is found in the realization that Christmas is not a holiday, but a feeling of absolute peace, stemming from the assurance that we are dearly loved by the Creator of the universe and that love is a gift. It is "Something More" that we cannot see with our eyes, but feel in our hearts.

Christmas is a state of heart and mind, which can never be stolen away - unless - we give the grinch permission to take it. Let's vow to never let the grinch steal Christmas again.

(Email subscribers may need to visit my blog to see the movie clips)

On Thursday, we'll take a deeper look at how the first grinch (Satan) tried and failed at stealing Christmas too.

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1 comment:

Sandie said...

Amazing. I thought I was the only one who saw the Grinch in this way.
However I must say you brought out some points I hadn't quite seen. I love your insight. Thanks.