Home Book Review A Deeper Look at "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
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A Deeper Look at "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

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The Story Line.

The Whos are preparing for their Christmas celebration. They’re obsessed with buying, giving, getting and decorating. Right from the start Cindy Lou, about 8 years old, observes all this activity and asks her father if it’s”right.” He brushes her off and says that this is how Whoville celebrates Christmas.

During all these busy preparations, the Grinch comes down disguised as one of the Whos. Cindy Lou meets him. When everyone realizes he’s been there, they act terrified. Cindy Lou begins to feel sorry for the Grinch; she’s determined to learn more about him.

She interviews the two older ladies who adopted him when he was a baby. She interviews the Mayor of Whoville. And, she interviews Martha Mae, the girl he liked in grade school. Cindy Lou comes to realize that the other kids at school mocked him, made fun of him and ridiculed him. And, so the Grinch left. He went up the mountain, outfitted a cave and has been there all these years.

Every year Whoville elects a Cheermeister to lead the Christmas Whobilation. The mayor wants that honor but Cindy Lou nominates the Grinch. Everyone agrees. She goes up the mountain to invite him. He decides to accept the honor and goes down to the celebration. Once there, the Whoville people are so over-excited, they frantically dress him, feed him, pull, push and shove him. He tries to stop them and actually says, “Stop, too much, too soon.” They pay no attention; he becomes angry and destroys the whole town’s Christmas. Little did he know that they had “spares” of everything, which they quickly brought out and put up.

The Grinch cannot stand the situation. He goes down again secretly on Christmas Eve night and steals everything; he wants to “teach them a lesson.” He takes everything back up to his mountain and is going to destroy it when he suddenly hears singing. “What?” he thinks. And, shock of shocks. The Grinch realizes that the people of Whoville now know that Christmas is not about buying, getting, giving or decorating. It’s about family and friends gathering together and loving each other. It’s about feeling content and grateful for what they each have. It’s about peace and true “good will” among all.

When the Grinch realizes what has happened, he decides to return all of the things he stole to the Whoville people. He does that and finds, a real bonus, that Martha Mae is in love with him. They all have a huge Christmas meal and everything ends happily.

Definitely my kind of movie.

Now, A Deeper Look.

There are quite a few deeper ideas in this movie. But here, we’ll deal with the three most important ones.

1. The Grinch withdrew from Whoville because his feelings were hurt. Why? His classmates made fun of him. Instead of accepting and including the Grinch even though he was different, the other kids at school mocked and humiliated him. He was so hurt that he shut down his feelings and decided never to feel them again; he thought, forevermore. He withdrew from the town, built his home in a cave on the mountain and he stayed there alone. The Grinch has been angry and bitter ever since.

We see him now as the adult Grinch. He’s in such a rage and so distrusts anyone from Whoville that he not only shields himself in his cave, but he also scares anyone from Whoville whenever he can. The Grinch is a master at revenge; he has everything it takes: motivation, energy, help (from his dog) and best of all, he’s smart!

Gosh, we see that bullying the weaker or different ones in Whoville was a common thing back then, just like it is today in our schools and businesses. Nothing much has changed because people who are bullied today feel the same way the Grinch did: they hurt, they don’t understand why they’re treated badly but they’re very clear that they’re different, don’t fit in and are purposely being shut out.

Cindy Lou first meets the Grinch when he comes down to Whoville to cause some trouble. Again, why would he do that, she wonders. He’s really disgusted with the Whoville people precisely because they emphasize the craziness of the holiday season: they shop, shop and decorate, decorate. He just wants to wipe out the whole thing.

In fact, he says, “Avarice, the avarice never ends. That’s what it’s all about. The Christmas season is stupid.” He goes absolutely crazy and ruins Christmas all over town.

2. Enter Cindy Lou, a Pleasing personality, is great at caring for others. She has deep feelings, like the Grinch, and also, like him, she’s troubled by all the commercialism about Christmas in Whoville. By now she also realizes that long ago the Grinch was treated badly. So, hoping to cheer him up, she nominates him for the Whoville Cheermeister; he’s elected. (One of the great moments in the story is when Cindy Lou nominates the Grinch, she is challenged not only by the mayor but also by other Whos in high power. She stands up to them, showing a lot of courage).

Cindy Lou is delighted and hopeful that the Grinch will want to join the community again. She goes up the mountain to ask him to come to the Christmas Whobilation and be the Cheermaster. Even though the Grinch is not kind to her, her caring for him never wavers.

Later, even as the Grinch is stealing all of her family’s Christmas, Cindy Lou’s Pleasing care-taking continues. She mistakenly thinks the Grinch is Santa Claus and she urges him to remember to leave a gift for her friend, the Grinch.

*** People who have the Pleasing personality always feel sorry for those who are being mistreated and are hurting. People who have the Pleasing personality always take care of those they care about. And, people with the Pleasing personality never want to believe that others are bad. Cindy Lou certainly fits this description.

3. On Christmas morning when the Grinch hears the singing from the town, he says, shocked, “It came; it came! Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.” As he says the words, he’s realizing that the Whos are having Christmas as they should without all the “stuff.” They realize that having each other is more than enough.

Then something truly wonderful happens to the Grinch. His heart, which had shrunk to practically nothing, grew and grew and grew in those moments; it grew three sizes right then. Right then, the Grinch had an attack of “feeling.” And, he cried.

It’s such a sweet moment when the Grinch says to Max, “I’m all toasty inside and I’m leaking.” The Grinch tells Max that he loves him; Max goes nuts and overwhelms the Grinch with kisses. To which the Grinch says, “That’s enough, that’s enough, one step at a time.” He’s still not quite ready for intimate expression.

After he realizes that Cindy Lou has come up the mountain to get him, saying, “No one should be alone on Christmas,” the Grinch returns everything to Whoville, joins in the celebration. His small heart is not only “not dead,” but re-blooms that day.

Yes, the Grinch’s outer world changed radically Christmas day; the Whoville people welcomed him and he rejoined them. But, the Grinch’s inner world, which is by far the more important, changes radically as well. He understands that hearts can soften and hurts can heal.

If you’re looking for a good, light Christmas movie choose The Grinch. If you’re looking for a “great” movie, choose The Grinch. Just be sure to take The Deeper Look.

Thanks for stopping by in this busy, busy season, and…. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season.

Warmest regards until next time,

Joan

By Joan Chamberlain

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