Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it for kids? Yes. Does it have a message that should resonate with anyone of any age? Yes.
With charming narration as well as Seuss rhymes and singing throughout, re-watching one of the staples of your kid-dom will have you in the throes of nostalgia. And if you don’t show this to your own kids, I might just have to mail you a lump of coal.
This isn’t the awkward Jim Carrey version. This is the real deal. It’s a classic. If you saw this as a kid, then you had an awesome childhood. Really, no child should grow up without at least a little bit of Dr. Seuss, especially if it’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Just under half an hour of run time, what is undoubtedly a kids’ film packs a mighty punch.
It’s Christmas time in Who-ville! The town is abuzz with activity. Gifts are being bought, decorations are going up, and trees are being trimmed. All the while the townsfolk are singing unabashedly, immersed in the Christmas spirit. But as they go on cheerily hustling and bustling, they are looked down upon from afar with contempt.
The Grinch’s green pigment might seem Christmas festive, but he’d stuff a Christmas tree in a dumpster as soon as look at one. This guy lives to hate Christmas. No one really knows why, but it’s surmised that it’s because his heart is two sizes too small. As he considers the impending Christmas day and the inevitable, horrible noise and dreadful singing to come, he is overcome with bitterness and spite. Maybe it’s the noise, or maybe it’s something more. There are some people who just can’t stand to see other folks happy or joyous, whether it’s because they themselves are miserable or just get their jollies out of bringing people down. And the Grinch means to bring the Whos down in a big way.
The green meanie hatches a diabolical scheme, and even drags his poor little dog Max into his heinous plot.
They impersonate Santa and one of his tiny reindeer and, in the guise of Christmas lore, launch a Christmas Eve campaign of mass burglary in an effort to stop Christmas. As the Grinch goes about his bad business, we are graced with one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time in which his nasty nature is described in hilariously clever detail. “You’re a three-decker sour kraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!”
Even while we find ourselves tsk-tsking our vile antagonist, it’s hard to deny that the reluctant antics of the Grinch’s helpless pup are humorous and endearing. The placement of Max’s comedic struggling and stumbling with bags full Christmas goodies almost makes you forget that his owner is abusively negligent in his insistence that his dog be his partner in crime. Almost.
The sinister devices of “Grinchie Claus” know no bounds. With a mischievous grin upon his face, he even goes so far as to literally take candy from babies. Even the wakeful, sharp tot Cindy Lou Who is bamboozled by his treachery. It takes a special kind of creep to look a precious child in the face and pull the wool over her eyes and rob her blind. “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch.”
The devious fiend sneaks away in the in the early hours of morning, having successfully nabbed every object of Christmas cheer. He takes the stolen goods to the mountain tops, intent on dumping it all down an endless chasm, but first he’ll listen and relish the cries of heartbroken Whos. However, much to his astonishment, the sound that meets his ears is not one of deep disappointment. “This sound wasn’t sad… why… this sound sounded glad!”
This story isn’t just about the Grinch, not in my mind. It’s just as much about the Whos. For them, Christmas isn’t just about the toys and decorations. It’s about thankfulness. It’s about being together. The physical decorations didn’t make Christmas special, but the way they decorated their hearts for the occasion. The gifts they bought didn’t make Christmas special, it was the gift of each other. “Christmas Day is in our grasp as long as we have hands to clasp.” “Christmas Day will always be just so long as we have we.” The Whos have joy, even when all their things have been taken from them. The Grinch hasn’t stolen Christmas, he’s just stolen physical objects which, by themselves, mean very little. Christmas came, in spite of his all his efforts.
The Grinch is not left unaltered by the Whos’ attitude. It affects him deeply. In the blink of an eye, our villain becomes the hero. In an incredible feat of freakish strength and with a heart three times its previous size, he hauls the massive bundle away from the chasm’s gaping maw before it all falls away. The thief becomes the giver, racing down the mountains in a frenzy of Christmas cheer to return what he’s stolen. The Whos accept him unquestioningly, a part of the story which I’ve yet to hear anyone else touch on. Their forgiveness is so genuine, so true, that it can’t be measured in words. It’s measured in deeds. You can see it by the way they share with the Grinch in the festivities without a second thought.
Being thankful and joyous, even when we have nothing, is powerful. Living our lives that way can have a rippling effect. We never know who might be watching. Even those who may mean to do us harm could be changed for the better if we show them true joy and thankfulness. So remember to love unconditionally, too.
People are more important than presents and music. We should value each other as human beings, and not measure ourselves and each other by our bells and whistles, or lack thereof.
Watching this again as an adult is definitely worth it, and it’ll only take less than thirty minutes of your time. If you have children, don’t just sit them down in front of the TV and then walk off. Enjoy it with them. Make a Christmas memory.