Column 12.7.18

While rewatching How the Grinch Stole Christmas the other day, I was struck by how many good principles are intertwined in the message of this classic Christmas story.

Most of us have seen this movie and enjoy it for its sweet Christmas tale and hilarious quotes. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend fixing that.) In this story, the citizens of Whoville love the Christmas season and go all out with their decorations and gifts.  The Grinch, however, rejects Christmas entirely.

The story follows Cindy Lou Who, a young girl determined to help the Grinch find happiness. I found three big truths that are emphasized in this story. First, the overarching theme of the movie is that Christmas isn’t about material things; instead, it’s about people. We learn this truth at the end of the story when the Grinch tries to ruin Christmas for the people of Whoville.

He steals all their gifts and decorations and food, only to realize that the citizens of Whoville are still celebrating. Why? Because the people of Whoville have remembered that one of the most important parts of Christmas isn’t a thing at all—it’s the family and friends they share it with.

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store,” the Grinch says. “Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.” Sometimes, amidst the celebrating, holiday shopping, and gift-giving, we—just like the Whoville citizens—forget that “things” are not the most important part of Christmas.

Most importantly, Jesus’ birth is the real reason for our celebration, and we should celebrate this special day with those closest to us. We can also learn a lesson from Cindy Lou Who, the young girl who sets her mind to changing the Grinch’s perspective on Christmas. Don’t judge people by their appearances.

Despite the whole town being afraid of the Grinch, Cindy insists that she wants to try to help him. “No matter how different a Who may appear, he will always be welcome with holiday cheer,” she says. And she’s right. It doesn’t matter what someone looks like, or sounds like, or how they act.

They are still people worth loving and worth trying to understand. In addition, we can apply this truth biblically—Christians should never assume that someone is too far gone to turn back to God. Not giving up on difficult people is hard. But just like Cindy Lou Who never gave up on the Grinch, we also should never give up on people.

And we should always welcome them with open arms, regardless of differences.  We can learn a third lesson from this movie, again from Cindy Lou Who: even if you’re young, you can still stand up for what’s right. Throughout the movie, Cindy questions the status quo of her town.

She asks what the real meaning of Christmas is, refusing to accept the answer that Christmas is just about the presents. She goes against her society to stand up for the Grinch and actually convinces them to help her change his mind. Even when the Grinch steals all their things, she doesn’t give up.

Even when the mayor of Whoville calls her a “little girl” and blames her for ruining their Christmas, she is not dissuaded from her goal of helping the Grinch find happiness.

This tenacity Cindy shows by not giving up on what she believes can also remind Christians to not worry about being “too young.” We are not too young to serve God and not too young to make a different in someone else’s life. 1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Here, Paul is telling Timothy that even though he is young, and some people might discount what he has to say, Timothy should not let that stop him from being an example to others. These are just three of the many lessons in this Christmas story. As you head into the Christmas season, keep these truths in mind.

Sure, you can celebrate with Christmas music and movies and decorations and gifts (I highly recommend this, too). Just don’t forget to also focus on loving others and being thankful for what God has done for us.