It came without ribbons

Remember that fateful moment in the old animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” when the eponymous Grinch realizes that even though he has stolen the trappings of their holiday, the Whos down in Whoville are singing and rejoicing?

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 and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store?
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

It’s an extraordinary bit of storytelling, and a prelude to the unforgettable climax of the story, wherein the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes and he achieves a state of compassionate enlightenment.

Remember, too, that in that state, the Grinch, now free of all attachment to stuff —and to his own previous grumpy perspective— happily descends on the town and gives all the decorations and presents and Jing Tinglers, Flu Floopers, Tar Tinkers, Who Hoovers and other assorted stuff back.

The result is to find himself embraced by the community, and placed at the head of the table, next to dear Cindy Lou Who (who was no more than two) where the Grinch, the Grinch himself! carves the roast beast.

It’s great stuff. I love it. It’s a beautiful and meaningful and lasting story, and a perfect mythic framework for understanding the “meaning” of the holiday in a spiritually secular way. (In other words, there’s no theology; just a celebration of togetherness).

But when it comes to the actual, versus the mythical holiday, I wish we could cut right to the chase —and by that I don’t mean the part where Max the Dog, an antler strapped to his head, is lashed and driven before the Grinch’s sled, groaning with its swollen bags of stolen gifts.

I wish we could just agree, in advance, on the basis of past viewings, that since Christmas doesn’t come from a store, we don’t need to go to the store in the first place; that if it came without ribbons, we don’t need to get all wrapped up in ribbons again this year to realize it.

Heaven forbid I should be the Grinch, at least, the pre-epiphany curmudgeonly Grinch. But can’t we just start with the ending this year, and go straight to holding hands and singing in a circle?

Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze
Welcome, Christmas, come this way
Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze
Welcome, Christmas, Christmas Day

Welcome, Welcome
Fah Who Rah Moos
Welcome, Welcome
Dah Who Dah Moos
Christmas Day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp

Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze
Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer
Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze
Welcome, all Whos far and near…

3 comments on “It came without ribbons

  1. I’ve always felt a kind word, a special promise, a beautiful memory or an unexpected visit from an old friend make far better Christmas gifts than a DVD box sets or expensive gadgets.

    Maybe I’m not the only one. :)

  2. perfectly said.

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