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Confessions of a Middle Aged Grinch

December 9th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, on ice day three, after helping a neighbor by de-icing walk and car, and providing much needed eggs for stalled brownies, we settled into our living room and watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Not the classic Chuck Jones (of Tom and Jerry fame) animated one where Boris Karlof narrates and Thurl Ravenscroft crooned the wonderful song, but instead the Ron “Opie” Howard directed, live action, Jim Carrey aped modern version. Also, a classic in my opinion. Because, as my daughter puts it, character development.

The script gives us some insight as to what made the Grinch sooooo grinchy. Why Cindi Lou Who was so forgiving. The rest of the screenplay is a great critique of the over all consumerishness that is over taking our holiday season, but I’ll let the viewer comment on this. I need to use this space to comment about me.

I’m a grinch. The holiday season is not a time of cheer for me. It has it’s moments, we focus on family and friends around my house, and look forward to times where all of us reside in the same room for more than a few moments at a time. Our Christmas traditions have largely morphed into a strange electronic sharing of time, because we live so separated from our families. Meh. It is what it is.

I’ve often wondered the root of my grinchiness. Why can I not feel the joy of the yule season.

It started, I guess, when I was 10. That was the new normal.

A Christmas where my father moved out.

A stretch of Christmases where they were spent on a stretch of highway, instead of cozied up near a warm fire.

Split families, split siblings, split time. Christmas cut down the middle, evenly split, evenly divided, evenly served.

Family that was family… and will always be family.

My parents didn’t divorce on the holidays, but they split up and the house divided and a father walked away in the yule tide season.

I love my parents, I love my step-parents. I HATE… the division, the split.

My father and mother, my step-mother and a few years later step-father worked hard to try to make it an addition, rather than a subtraction. Inclusive for everyone one exclusive to one family. They were valiant in trying to make lasting memories, to heal the wounds of separation. My grinchiness is not their fault.

This past year, we’ve lost two of my children’s grandfathers. Two funerals, two memorials to fathers that did their very best for their children and their grandchildren. Two men who worked hard to show love, even if they themselves were broken in very normal, human ways.

In years past, my grandfathers died (as I remember) during the winter between the months of November and February. Winter is the season for dying, I suppose, the trees lose their leaves, the world grows cold. It seems to surround me, and invade my thoughts, this darkness. I look forward to Christmas, I do. I know, as a believer, that it marks the time to celebrate the Advent. To celebrate the birth of Christ (not the birth day of Christ… for he was even before the beginning) the incarnation of the God as man, a time to remember and give us hope … in his Grace, of his Mercy, reveling in his Unconditional Love. This is truly what I look forward to in Christmas.

Not the trees.

Not the lights.

Not the decorations.

The season isn’t warm for me,  and this past year won’t make this time of year any better. It is a season of loss, and the gifts under the tree? I’d trade them all. They are temporary… As Jim Carrey spake in the remake of the Grinch:

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s always been *about*. Gifts, gifts… gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts! You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I’m saying? In your *garbage*. I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump. And the avarice…

The avarice never ends! “I want golf clubs. I want diamonds. I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored and sell it to make glue.” Look, I don’t wanna make waves, but this *whole* Christmas season is…

…stupid, stupid, stupid!

And later, Lou Lou Who, tries in a valiant attempt to save the message of Christmas.

I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, beacuse it isn’t about the… the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights. That’s what Cindy’s been trying to tell everyone… and me. I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.

To which my true grinchy heart both swells and deflates, in some morbid rhythm that keeps it from growing three-sizes too big.

Because, my family died over Christmas. Figuratively, Literally… potaytoh, potahtoh.

My life rebooted when I was 10 years old. The previous 10 years seem like a dream, that I can never re-live.

When my father passed away, my siblings scoured the photo albums and posted photos of my father from all periods of his life, including those early years, where I didn’t really know what I had, until it was gone. The people, they are still in my life; my mother, my sisters, my brother – They are still here. Thankfully.

I can rage at many things that happened this past year. Unfair! Uncharitable! Unwanted!

I can regret my own insular personality that withdrew from anyone and everyone when I was hurting. Like a turtle inside his shell, trying to not be poked by a stick.

But then… in my hardheartedness, I remember.

A story.

A family, that was barely a family.

A husband, leading his new wife, carrying a baby that was not his.

A baby that would be… is…  a gift to the world.

To tear down the curtain, to rend the very fabric of the universe, to take what is holy, separate, divine and enter the mundane existence of grinch-like hearts like mine. And to rejoin us with our TRUE father.

My heart softens, and grows.

This season, these dark days of winter… need to have the light of Christmas.

I need to have the hope of a savior, to see me through these dark days called – life.

I hate the holidays, I can’t help it. I love my family, but they aren’t enough. I NEED Christ-mas.



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