“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is one of my favorite holiday traditions. I can be a little bit grinchy at times, especially this time of year. Christmas isn’t really my thing. I don’t hate it, but I don’t mind ignoring it either. In fact, having the whole day to myself last year and not doing anything Christmas-y at all was probably one of the best Christmases since become an adult (whenever that happened).
And the consumerism around Christmas drives me crazy. Last year, I was really into “What Would Jesus Buy?” a documentary that follows the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir on their road trip to Disneyland to protest holiday commercialism. I don’t like the insidious admonishment to show love by buying. And that’s a lot of what Christmas appears to be. But I keep going back to that line from the Grinch, “maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
And it is that little bit more that I want to focus on this Christmas. The gifts are already bought, and are relatively meaningful, but where is that little bit more?
To segue to another childhood Christmas classic, yesterday when I was sick in bed I watched “A Muppet Christmas Carol” which produced the family chestnut “hoity toity, Mr. Dickens” (said whenever anyone was particularly smart-alecky). In it, the ghost of Christmas present sings that Christmas “is the season of the heart, a special time for caring, the ways of love made clear.” And, trite as this line may be, I’d much prefer to think of Christmas as the way of love made clear than as another opportunity for overconsumption.
The Grinch and the Muppets inspire me to think about what I love about this holiday, and what I can cut out. For instance–I apparently like Christmas movies like The Grinch (live action and cartoon), the Muppets (as mentioned), Rent… I can probably even stomach one viewing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” On the other hand, I am not a fan of Christmas music with very few exceptions (“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is one of them–it’s so sad when Judy sings it!). So I don’t listen to it. I wasn’t listening to it before, but now it feels intentional. I like pfeffernusse cookies, but none of the others, so guess what? I’m not eating them. I prefer homemade gifts and experiences, so that’s what I’m trying to mostly give.
And I’m trying to remember that it is “a special time for caring” and not get too self-righteous and judgmental about those who prefer to celebrate Christmas with a little more tinsel than I do.
I’ve been particularly appreciative of the Center for a New American Dream’s “Simplify the Holidays” calendar this year–hope they do it again and I recommend checking it out.