It’s that time again. The season for giving is upon us. The Christmas music is playing, the tree lots are open, and a few lights are going up in the neighborhood. It all sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But, the truth is, the real meaning of Christmas has been lost in all of the consumerism. Black Friday now actually starts on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day! Why sit around and spend time with your family and friends when you can go buy something on sale?
It all makes me think of the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We’ve all read this classic story by Dr. Seuss about the cranky, mean, Grinch trying to steal Christmas from all the Whos in Whoville. He snuck in late one Christmas Eve and stole their wrapped presents and cheerful decorations that awaited the Whos on Christmas morning.
Why would anyone want to do this? Well, the Grinch lacked any joy in his life, and his heart, we are told, was a tiny, shriveled little thing incapable of feeling anything for anyone other than himself. He really didn’t want all the pretty packages he stole, but he sure didn’t want the Whos to have them either. He was trying to steal the source of their Christmas joy just because he didn’t have any.
Andy Stanley once said “I wonder what I would have if I didn’t know what anybody else had?” It’s easy to try and keep up with the Joneses and lose sight of what really matters to us. It’s a trap that leads to a joyless life because you are never going to get enough in that scenario. The great industrialist, John Rockefeller, was asked one time “How much is enough?” He reportedly said, “Just a little bit more.” If Rockefeller — the very icon of wealth and prosperity — didn’t have enough, what makes us think we ever will?
Our joy can’t be tied to our possessions. The Whos had it right. When they all awoke Christmas morning, they were astonished that all their gifts and decorations had been stolen. At first, they weren’t too happy. All of the work. All of the money. All of the surprises. Gone!
Luckily, Lou Lou Who arrives on the scene and makes this now famous declaration:
“I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights … I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.”
Immediately Mr. Mayor, and all the Whos in Whoville, knew Lou Lou was right. They had focused too much on the wrong things … competing with their neighbors for the most decorated home, the biggest gifts, and more. But after Lou Lou’s declaration, all the Whos began to celebrate Christmas without the presents or decorations.
The Grinch was confused. Of course, we know he later learned that the key to the Whos’ Christmas joy wasn’t based on stuff—it was based on giving. And when they didn’t have presents to give anymore, they gave of what they had: themselves.
This was so moving that it changed the Grinch forever and his heart grew three sizes. The same person who wanted to silence others’ joy was now transformed into a joyous, generous giver himself.
So, what about you? What is your focus this season?
This Christmas, may we, too, be givers. And, if we are lucky, our hearts will grow three sizes, refocusing us once again on the true reason for this blessed season.