I feel obliged to write about Christmas. It is that time of year, right? It is everywhere.
I was at the orthodontist with my boy this week (there goes Christmas!) when one of the assistants called the orthodontist a grinch.
“They don’t like Christmas,” she whispered to me, exasperated that such a human could even exist, “They’re a grinch!”
“What!” I exclaimed, “How can you not like Christmas?”
“I know, right!” with a companion in thought, she smiled contentedly, her judgment of the one who does not like Christmas now justified.
It did get me thinking though, what does it take for someone to not like Christmas? What must Christmas remind them of? What could the faith, festivities and food possibly represent that would result in grinch-like tendencies?
The story of The Grinch, by Dr Suess, is pretty simple. Spoiler coming if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie …
The Grinch is hurt and alone, well, nearly alone, he has Max his nearly faithful dog with him. At Christmas his pain and isolation is exacerbated as Whoville connects and celebrates more than normal. So, it is only natural that the Grinch should steal Christmas from its residents so that they all hurt like he does! However, Cindy Lou, a small ‘Whovillian’ catches him in the act and, despite his evil shenanigans, invites him to dinner. Suddenly, the Grinch feels connected and loved. He is compelled to return Christmas to Whoville, all its gifts and decorations. He is then welcomed to celebrate Christmas with all the Whos and his heart grows three times its size (a lovely metaphor for how we feel when we are welcomed and accepted for who we are).
I always feel sorry for the Grinch; hurt to the point where he is alone and feels rejected. Hurt to the point where he lashes out so he has company in misery. (I feel I must say at this point, the orthodontist was not these things at all, they were very lovely and cared for my boy very well!)
It is not difficult to look around us and see, is it? We all have Grinches in our life don’t we? For whatever valid-and-justified, painful-beyond-what-we-can-imagine reason, there are those in our life who struggle to see beyond, who are difficult to connect with, who leave us a little, or a lot, hurt.
The key is the ‘Cindy Lou’ factor. The capacity of a child to look beyond the immediate offense, to look beyond the impact on herself, and simply love-on. Simple in action (come to dinner) and simple in concept (we all need genuine love despite our grinchy-ness).
If I am honest though, I don’t think this idea is a Dr Seuss ‘green-eggs-and-ham-type’ original. I don’t think Cindy Lou was the first to show this kind of love. In fact, could I boldly suggest she is a metaphor for the love we see in Jesus?
From the time of His birth, which we celebrate at this time of year, the ‘Cindy Lou’ factor has been clear. God keeps his promise to be with us always and love us unceasingly. God comes to earth and looks past our rejection of Him and our continued unkindness to one another (a point I don’t feel I need to prove in our world now). Instead, He sees our beauty, our purposeful, powerful identity and values our connection with Him and others. He invites us to walk with him, even have dinner with him! Simple. In fact, in his parable in Matthew 22 Jesus goes so far as to invite anyone who wants to come to feast at the table with him, to come and do so and become part of His blended family.
I love that our world’s response to God being with us, Christ’s birth, is to celebrate it by taking the time to be with family, to connect and forgive, to invite in.
So, to conclude this year, I leave you with the ‘Jesus & Cindy Lou’ challenge:
1. Look around you.
2. Find your Grinch.
3. Allow the unconditional love that we see and receive from Jesus to empower you to forgive, connect and invite; to look past the offence, the pain or the hurt and value the truth of the wonderfully created person you see in front of you.
I am thankful for our Richmond Christian College community, especially our students, for how they model this all year so that we can live, learn and love in the fullness of what God has planned for us in our ‘Whoville’.
May you know His love for you this Christmas and be able to share it with those around you.