I came across a great quote the other day that was attributed to Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. I liked it so much that I posted it on Facebook (the sincerest form of flattery in our continuously-expanding social media world), and a whole bunch of folks indicated they loved it, too.
Coolidge said, “Christmas is not a time nor season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas”.
The quote really got my attention because I’ve heard so many people say that this particular holiday season has just not felt the same for them as it usually does.
I believe the combination of people suffering financially this year in ways they haven’t before, and the ever present association of Christmas joy with retail sales or holiday cheer with spending lots of money, has caused this depression in so many of our spirits.
So I think, now more than ever, it’s crucial for all of us to know that the true spirit of Christmas is something that comes from the inside. It’s in our hearts. And because of this truth, it’s something that can last all year. It really has so little to do with “Black Friday” or who gets the biggest and best toys (kids or adults) or how many stores you can hit and how many credit card balances you can run up…
Christmas, really, as President Coolidge indicated, is a state of mind. Peace, goodwill, mercy, and I also think love and forgiveness are the real gifts that we should give freely to one another. And we should also give those gifts to ourselves. No matter what we’ve been through or how different the past year has played out, the magic, the joy, the love, the wonder of the holiday season is still right there…inside each and every one of us!
I wanted to share one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time. Yes, it’s from Dr. Seuss, and you may have heard it many times. It’s about a Grinch…
Even if you’ve heard it, I encourage you to take a few minutes and read it again, now. Maybe with a slightly different perspective. See if it moves you in a significant way.
It always manages to get to me…every single time I read it. Mostly because ever since I was a kid, it has reminded me of what Christmas really is, and how it is something we can carry with us all year. My absolute favorite part of the story is highlighted in red.
Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful and very Merry Christmas, and the best, most blessed, prosperous and wonderful 2011 that you can imagine…
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch,
Who lived just North of Who-ville
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most unlikely reason of all
Might have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
Whatever the reason,
His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos.
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town
For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath
Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.
“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer.
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming!”
For, tomorrow, he knew…
…All the Who girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they’d feast! And they’d feast!
And they’d FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn’t stand in the least!
They’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing,
They’d stand hand in hand. And the Whos would start singing!
They’d sing! And they’d sing!
AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!”
‘Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop Christmas from coming!
Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
“I know just what to do!” The Grinch laughed in his throat.
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy trick!”
“With this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like Saint Nick!”
“All I need is a reindeer…”
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the old Grinch…?
No! The Grinch simply said,
“If I can’t find a reindeer I’ll make one instead!”
So he called his dog Max. Then he took some red thread
And he tied a big horn on top of his head.
He loaded some some bags
And some old empty socks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max.
Then the Grinch said, “Giddyap!”
And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos
Lay a-snooze in their town.
All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
When he came to the first house in the square.
“This is stop number one,” the old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch.
He got stuck only once for a moment or two.
Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
“These stockings,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!”
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Who’s feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash,
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
“And NOW!” grinned the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”
And the Grinch grabbed the tree, and he started to shove
When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.
He turned around fast, and he saw a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.
The Grinch had been caught by this little Who daughter
Who’d got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why,
Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”
But, you know, that old Grinch was so smart and so slick
He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!
“Why, my sweet little tot,” the fake Santy Claus lied,
“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.
So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”
And his fib fooled the child. Then he patted her head.
And he got her a drink and he sent her to bed.
And when Cindy-Lou Who went to bed with her cup,
HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
Then the last thing he took
Was the log for their fire.
Then he went up the chimney himself, the old liar.
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.
And the one speck of food
That he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
He did the same thing
To the other Who’s houses
Much too small
For the other Who’s mouses!
It was quarter past dawn…
All the Whos, still a-bed
All the Whos, still a-snooze
When he packed up his sled.
packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
“Pooh-pooh to the Whos!” he was Grinch-ish-ly humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!”
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!”
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
Then all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”
“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch,
“That I simply must hear!”
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the snow
It started in low. Then it started to grow…
But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!
He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could this be so?”
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!
And he puzzled three hours, ’till his puzzler was sore,
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
And what happened then…?
Well…in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
The Grinch carved the roast beast!