I am writing this before Thanksgiving. That’s important because I have a strict “no Christmas before Thanksgiving” policy. So rigid is this rule in my home that in retaliation my family requires that I participate in getting out and putting up every single Christmas decoration on Friday the day after Thanksgiving. Call us dysfunctional, but it works for us. However, once the turkey is eaten I am all in. I love Christmas, but it wouldn’t be Christmas without the Grinch.
If you are not familiar with The Grinch, let me give you the important points.
The Grinch was perceived by everyone in Whoville as an evil person. Some of the terms of endearment used to describe him included, “cuddly as a cactus, and charming as an eel.” He set about to keep Christmas from coming by stealing all the Who’s presents and food in an amazingly complex and, most likely, physically impossible Christmas eve raid.
As dawn broke, he eagerly waited to hear the cries of despair from the Whos, but he was shocked when what he heard wasn’t sorrow, but joy:
Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
It took a while for it to sink in but the Grinch finally realizes:
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
He’s right. Christmas is more than the gifts we give and get. The joy we feel is about love and community and redemption. Once that is in us, we can’t help but give it to others. In the Grinch’s case, his heart changes and he does a 180 and went from hating Christmas to carving the roast beast for the Christmas dinner.
We don’t celebrate Christmas to give gifts. We give gifts as a reflection or symbol of the gift we’ve been given. So what you have in this basket is a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. The reality of our story is that we are the Grinch and we have no joy and no community until our hearts are changed. Christmas is the celebration of the good news that Jesus came into the world to save me from that joyless and lonely life. His life, death and resurrection made it possible for me to experience love and joy in this life and then for eternity with him.
So as we bustle and hustle around this Christmas, I hope we will remember why we are celebrating and what the gifts we give and receive are supposed to reflect. Christmas doesn’t come from a store, it comes from our hearts.