Tim Throckmorton: The Grinch and the meaning of redemption

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 17, 2023

Christmas time is here! And so is the Grinch! 

I mean the original. I’m a classics man and my favorite is the 1966 version narrated by Boris Karloff. 

It’s my personal favorite and I see it everywhere I look on TV. 

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Quite a few years ago, Terri and I joined our daughter, son in law and our granddaughter, little miss Kairi in attending the Broadway production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” 

It was such fun just watching my sweet granddaughter’s eyes captivated by the theatrics was incredible!

Every Christmas season it seems, I again enjoy the Grinch story in one form or another! 

There is, for each time, a very small moment in the production that seems to always grab my attention. 

It’s when little Cindy Lou Who, after catching old Mr. Grinch in the act of stuffing her Christmas tree up the chimney asks the questions… but why?

This reminded me of a great article I read a few years back in Relevant magazine by Austin Sailsbury in which he observed “the Grinch has become the most well-known of Dr. Seuss’ stories. 

As Dickens did with Ebenezer Scrooge, Dr. Seuss literally redefined the essence of what it means to be a heartless fun hater. 

Set in the cheery-cheeked hamlet of Whoville, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a Seuss-ified critique of both the over-commercialization of Christmas (the Whos with all their presents) and its antithesis: holiday humbuggery (old Mr. Grinch). But, in the end, the Grinch realizes Christmas is not about material things that can be “stolen,” but instead about the intangible joys of the season. 

Taking another cue from Dickens, the Grinch is ultimately redeemed, which is not only fitting but required for any great story about Christmas—after all, it’s the beginning of the story of redemption itself.”  

How can they who miss the true reason for the season begin to realize that? 

To borrow a line from the Grinch himself… What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

The truth is Mister Grinch, Christmas does mean a little bit more, a lot more in fact!

Several years ago, there was a story told about this young couple who were planning to have their little baby christened in their beautiful home. 

It was a cold wintry day. 

And as the guests began to arrive, they were greeted by the husband and wife. As the couples entered, they tossed their coats and scarves on the bed that was adjacent to the living area. 

Everyone arrived at approximately the same time. After a brief time of fellowship, someone asked, where’s the baby? 

The mother quickly dashed into the bedroom and discovered that the coats and the scarves had been carelessly thrown on the bed where she had placed the little baby. The little child was almost smothered at his own party! 

Seems like that’s the byproduct of the over commercialization of Christmas.

Years ago, Dave Barry observed, “To avoid offending anybody, the school dropped religion altogether and started singing about the weather. At my son’s school, they now hold the winter program in February and sing increasingly non-memorable songs such as “Winter Wonderland,” “Frosty the Snowman” and – this is a real song  – ”Suzy Snowflake,” all of which is pretty funny because we live in Miami. A visitor from another planet would assume that the children belonged to the Church of Meteorology.” 

We as a culture have successfully removed the message of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem from the minds of many for a couple of generations now!

Christmas does mean a little bit more because the message of Christmas is still the greatest story ever told! 

The best of wordsmiths, Max Lucado wrote… “If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator; If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist; If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist; If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer; But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.” The greatest need for every life has been supplied in the person of that little baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

The Grinch was on to something here. Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Christmas…perhaps… means a little bit more and it is not just about packages, boxes, and bows, it means more… much more! 

Christmas means that God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son… and he did it for you and for me! 

Merry Christmas!

Tim Throckmorton is the national director of Family Resource Council’s Community Impact Teams.