The Only Holiday Movie You Need This Season

Christmas is a time for sharing kindness and cheer with family, friends, and even strangers. We are encouraged to promote generosity and acceptance among all humankind, no matter what holiday we celebrate. However, this bubbly, warm spirit is often overshadowed by the stressors of the season: frantic bargain hunting, meal preparation marathons, and nerve-wracking holiday shopping. There is a pressure to exhibit the magic of Christmas in every aspect of life, from the burden of hospitality to the task of decorating. We often forget what this holiday is truly about, which is why there is only one Christmas movie you need to watch this season: "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." 

Don't be too alarmed...I won’t go into a deep political viewpoint of this movie, but it should be noted that Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was a cartoonist for a newspaper that catered to left-wing economics.  Later, as he continued writing literature for children rather than adults, he said “I don’t think my book is going to change society. But I’m naïve enough to think that society will be changed by examination of ideas through books and the press.” Two of his children’s tales that have been adapted for the big screen share messages relating to greed fueling capitalism, but since it is Christmas (and the movie is on Netflix), I won’t be talking about the Lorax, but rather, everyone’s favorite holiday hero: The Grinch. 

The Scrooge-like character of the Grinch sits atop his mountain day after day, watching the Whos below him count the days until December 25th. The Grinch hates Christmas and the Christmas-loving Whos, who do nothing to help their situation. Instead of embodying the spirit of the season, they compete with each other for best lights, try to buy the most presents, abuse retail and postage workers, and even have a tournament to decide a holiday cheermeister! It’s absolutely ridiculous, and the Grinch, with his heart two sizes too small, is simply disgusted by a society that has fallen away from the true meaning of Christmas in order to worship corporate consumption. We laugh at the scene where a five-minute only sale is announced on the main street of Whoville, and as Whos rush towards the store, they trample the man offering the sale. However, is it really too far off from our own culture? Think of the absolute monstrosity of Black Friday, which generated 7.4 billion dollars this year, shattering all previous records.  We aren’t so different from the Whos after all!

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Now, here's where things get interesting: little Cindy Lou-Who wants to change the dynamic of Christmas, so she invites the Grinch to the holiday festival; she wants everyone to be together for a change. The slightly xenophopic Whos do eventually accept Cindy’s idea, and allow the Grinch to participate, but once their petty motives become clear, he retaliates. He tells them how he watches all of their gifts wind up in the garbage chute, and he should know, because the dump is basically his backyard! How many of us have regifted a present we got from a relative or taken it back to the store with a receipt in order to get what we really want? Many of the gifts we give or receive are worthless because they were simply purchased as a sign of responsibility, and since the Grinch knows this, he decides to take what will simply be delivered to him in a few days time anyway.

The absolute pinnacle of this movie is not the scene where the Grinch sets the giant Who Christmas tree on fire, nor the iconic gift stealing sequence in which he does not even leave crumbs for a mouse, but rather, the rising of the sun on Christmas Day. The Whos feel sorry for themselves for a few minutes, as they have a right to, since some lost thousands of dollars in merchandise the night before, but then, they do something incredible. They form a circle, join hands, and begin to sing. Though they have no presents, no ornaments, no Who-hash, they have each other. The Grinch can never take that away from them because, in the end, the Whos truly do love Christmas. 

They have been blinded by expectations for so long, as we often are, and have been pushed to adopt consumerism during the holiday season, as we often do. However, once the demanding, normative conjecture of material offerings has been lifted from their shoulders, they open their eyes to realize that the idea behind a present is what really matters. Cindy’s father even proclaims that, “You can’t hurt Christmas...because it isn’t about the gifts.” We care about the people, and despite whatever tangible object we give them, it could never possibly replace our feelings towards them. 

The Whos love Christmas, they love each other, and the Grinch can only take the objects that represent their emotions, not the emotions themselves. The holidays are a time for being together with loved ones, families, and even the community. The idea of the “season of giving” is one of great importance, but we have steered it in the wrong direction. Instead of giving monetary, material things, we should be giving one another time, attention, and love. 

Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t just stop giving gifts entirely. I even participated in Cyber Monday this year, and spent way too much on the newest Xbox game for my brother, but I bought presents not because I felt obligated to, but because I wanted to. I want to treat my family to what they like this season, because I know they will want to do the same for me. And, as the sun sets on Christmas Day, I won’t even care about what was under the tree that morning, just the fact that we were all gathered there, listening to Christmas music, drinking hot chocolate, and enjoying each other’s company. 

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We may not have our heart grow three sizes, but like the Grinch, we can realize the significance of the season. Though we are made to believe otherwise, it doesn’t take much to make Christmas special. Gather those you care about around the fireplace (or if you remain in California this winter, a fireplace on the TV is fine), and remember what this holiday is truly about. It’s not about ribbons, it’s not about tags, it’s not about packages, boxes, or bags, it’s about love, and nothing could ever replace it, or steal it, for that matter!