Learning Generosity From The Grinch
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.