|Artwork for "Forgotten Joy 2011|
Advent Guide" by Helms Jarrell
Through his observation of the Whos, down in Who-ville, the Grinch understands only the lie of Christmas told by the material things he sees. His experience begs the question: How do the trappings of Christmas lie to us as we observe and celebrate Christmas?
We know from the end of the story that the Whos represent those whose Christmas joy has not been obscured by materialism and consumerism. Their celebration continues in spite of the Grinch's efforts to stop Christmas. For most of my life I have identified primarily with the Whos. I suspect that I learned this identification from the people and societal practices around me. And I imagine that this is true for most of us.
We read the story of the Grinch in such a way that it reinforces our own perceived virtue. It reminds us that despite the trappings around us, we, like the Whos, are not fooled by them. It is through our true understanding of Christmas that we help change the Grinches around us. We all want to see ourselves this way and I imagine that desire directs us away from a more self-critical analysis of the story.
If we allow the story to reflect our practices and habits back to us as a mirror, I believe a different picture emerges. The Whos do not represent the virtue within us. Rather, they represent the virtue to which we aspire. The Grinch, then, becomes the character with which we most identify. This reading allows us to look deeply into ourselves to discover the ways that our Christmas traditions deceive us.