Learning Generosity From The Grinch

Published by Thriving Erin on

A Discussion of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas!” by Dr. Suess


And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!”

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”


We all love this part of the story. When the Grinch realizes that Christmas is about more than the commercial holiday we see on the surface. We love reading about how his “small heart grew three sizes that day” and how, in a moment of clarity he understands something that had been beyond him before.


As I got older, I started to wonder, why, once the Grinch realizes it’s not all about the gifts, does he gain the strength of ten grinches (plus two) to save the gifts from falling off the top of Mount Krumpit so he can distribute them to the Whos? What is it about this that resonates with us? Why do we read this over and over again, read it to our kids, watch the original cartoon?


Perhaps what the Grinch realized is that there is more value in giving than in receiving (Does this sound cliché? Of course it does, but come on, we’re talking about The Grinch here). That the Whos down in Whoville could still celebrate despite not receiving gifts on Christmas morning.


One of the best things about the Christmas season is the spirit of generosity that permeates so much of the culture during this time. Charitable donations go up, volunteer numbers increase, people buy gifts for each other, and we all finally find the time to spend with family and friends that somehow we couldn’t seem to find the rest of the year.


We started having problems when we started to limit generosity by almost exclusively tying it to our finances. Generosity became a competition, a status symbol, and a show of how much money we can spend on other people (nobody needs to know how much debt we now have on those credit cards right?) This is tragic. Generosity is so much more than that. Generosity is giving joyfully of what we have and definitely does not need to be limited by buying things. One of the most valuable things we have to give away is our time. It is the only thing we will never get more of in our life and when we choose to spend it with someone, it is a generous thing. In our current culture, even more than time, I think we can be incredible generous with our focus. Have you ever met a friend for coffee and they spent half the time checking their phone? I definitely have and I’ll tell you right now, it is not a lovely feeling. What does it cost us to give one hour of focused time to a friend? To put down our phones, turn off the TV, and really focus on what they have to say. In today’s world of over-stimulation and multitasking, this would be incredibly generous.


The best thing about generosity is that it has to be free. We have to be intentional to give something away for free and as a result, it forces us to refocus. It forces us to realize that we are in a position where we are able to give someone something for free and it reminds us of an area in our own life where we are blessed. Giving generously doesn’t feel good because we get to show how awesome we are, it feels good because it reminds us how blessed we already are. Don’t believe me? Test it. Bless someone anonymously and see if you still enjoy it as much. I bet you will. It’s an amazing feeling to realize how blessed we are and to see how easy it is to bring even a little bit of that blessing into someone else’s life.


I hope you have an amazing Christmas where you find lots of amazing opportunities to bless others.


Courtney · December 28, 2018 at 4:10 pm

Hi Erin – Love that you dove deeper into a classic! It is interesting you point out that the Grinch doesn’t really “give” anything, but instead saves others presents he captured. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on what it means to gift give, especially how it’s not about how MUCH we give. This is a hard concept for my family and I, as we usually set a dollar amount to spend on each other. This then feels like we’re just trading money. Alternatively, we say we’ll just give something that we thought the other would like, regardless of price, but then it feels like we’re missing out or that we didn’t get enough. Sometimes it feels like a lose-lose! Thanks for the reminder to get back to basics of what generosity looks like so we can spread it to those we appreciate most.

Mark Modesti · December 26, 2018 at 8:54 pm

“Giving generously doesn’t feel good because we get to show how awesome we are, it feels good because it reminds us how blessed we already are.”

I love this quote! So true, and so hope inspiring. It’s such a timeless principle, but you’ve put a new twist on it.

My daughter watches the original and the Jim Carrey version repeatedly during the season, and I think it’s probably due in part to the entertainment value, but even more so to this lesson that you shared. It’s one we need to keep sharing! Thanks for keeping it in front of us.

I wondered if you had any stories to share on the topic.

Years ago, I was at a stoplight and a young man was holding up his sign. It bothered me because he looked like he could easily be a friend of my son. He didn’t have the typical disheveled look you often see. I fished some cash out of my pocket and saw I had a few ones and a couple $20’s. I decided to give a $20, and I’ll never forget the look on his face as he thanked me. I saw hope, and I imagined that maybe it wasn’t just the $20, but the generosity that inspired him. He just kept saying “thank you” and “God bless you!”

The light turned green and as I pulled away, I saw him head toward who knows where. He kept looking back and smiling and waving… I felt so blessed to be able to do something to help.

I can still picture his smile. I hope he’s on a good path now.

Helen Lim · December 26, 2018 at 6:38 pm

Hi Erin, I did enjoy this post. You capture the holiday cheer well by describing generosity. The self reflection I have now is about the mutual break up I’m going through. Sometimes I struggle with wanting to reach out to him. However, I find myself trapped in a tug of war about whether reaching out is actually generous if he is hurting about what’s happened between us. Or perhaps, I have to first be generous to myself with that reaching out to be able to recognize what is truly generous to him. You hit this idea on the head saying, “Generosity is giving joyfully of what we have.”

It’s so insightful that “giving generously feels good because it reminds us how blessed we already are.” This is a fantastic mantra for anyone needing to get into a gratitude posture. Thank you for your post. I feel more grounded and ready to give for interacting with it. Happy holidays!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *