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Friday, December 23, 2011

TGIF: How The Grinch Stole Christmas

So, how many of you have completely wrapped up your Christmas shopping for this year? Are you completely finished yet? Still have a few gifts to buy? Haven't even started yet?

Well, if you are a part of the group to which that last question is directed to, what the heck are you waiting for? With less than 48 hours before the big day, time is running out!

Of course, the holiday season shouldn't be completely devoted to how much money you spend. It really should be about spending time with your loved ones, and not about how much you buy them. Certainly purchasing gifts that were tailor made for the person receiving the gift can provide much joy for the giver, especially if the gift is one that brings much happiness to them. But gifts shouldn't be the sole focus of having a happy holiday.

It kind of annoys me ever so slightly how commercial the holidays seem to be. From cell phone ads proclaiming that you can walk in a 4G wonderland (which actually sounds kind of dirty if you say it fast enough) to Hershey proclaiming that on the holidays they can stop the world and melt with you.

News flash, Hershey...Modern English did it first, and did it best.

Even walking through the shopping malls and department stores, it almost seems that the main motivation is pushing freight and merchandise to shoppers because of the fact that if you don't buy your loved ones a gift, you don't really love them. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?

What else I find ridiculous is whenever I walk by a cash register with a long line-up approximately two days before Christmas, and hearing some people in the line complaining about waiting in line, and all of that jazz...I mean, those people do realize that they had three hundred and sixty-four days to plan ahead for the holiday, right? Sometimes there are circumstances where people are left with no choice but to do their shopping last minute, but not even those people seem to be mean-spirited about it all. I tell you, the things that go through some people's minds during the Christmas season.

Why it doesn't seem to take long for even the most well-intentioned people in the world to become a real nasty piece of work. And for what? An iPad? An XBOX Kinect? A partridge in a pear tree? could almost call them a Grinch!

You know the kinds of people that make up a Grinch...they're self-centered, they do dastardly things to get what they want, if their holiday gets ruined, then s/he'll do whatever it takes to ruin someone else's holiday. Yeah, you get the drill.

If you have any Grinches in your family or your inner circle of friends, then you know that sometimes they can be quite hard to deal with. Sometimes they can be so aggravating to deal with that you find yourself resisting the urge to take their head and dunk it repeatedly inside the bowl filled with eggnog.

There is good news though. The Grinches of the world can be rehabilitated and with a little tender loving care, they can reclaim their love for the holidays and become warm-hearted individuals.

Here's one case study that I think we can take a lot from.

In 1957, Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known to you and I as Dr. Seuss) wrote a book that dealt with the whole idea of holiday Grinches. In fact, the main character of the book was a Grinch!

'How The Grinch Stole Christmas' was Dr. Seuss' first attempt at a Christmas-themed story. Not only did Dr. Seuss write the book himself in rhyming verse, he drew all the pictures in the story as well.

The book was eventually made into an animated television special, and a live-action movie featuring Jim Carrey as the title character. (You knew I had to slip in a reference to the 6 Days Of Box Office Christmas week, didn't you?)

But for the sake of argument (and because I haven't seen the Jim Carrey adaptation of the show), we're going to focus on the animated special, which debuted on December 18, 1966 on CBS originally. Over the last few years, the show has been broadcast on ABC and ABC Family, and is traditionally one of the holiday specials that kicks off the holiday season. It is also one of only four television specials produced in the 1960s that still airs on a regular basis, right alongside A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty The Snowman, and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer...all of which have entries already devoted to them on this blog!

The voice of the Grinch, as well as much of the narration of the special was done by actor Boris Karloff. The role was one of the last ones Karloff would end up doing before his death in 1969. And what a fine job he did with the voice of the Grinch at that.

The song 'You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch', as heard above, was also recorded by a familiar voice. Many of you may not recognize the name Thurl Ravenscroft at first glance, but those of you with keen ears may notice that for several years, he performed the voice of Tony the Tiger in the commercials for Frosted Flakes cereal.

He's just that grrrrrrrreat!

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Anyway, the television special was just like the book as it was written, which was perfect for children. They could read the book and follow along with it as the show aired. Of course, the television special was done in full colour, while the original book was done in a red and black colour scheme.

The first part of the show takes place in the fictional town of Whoville, a place where the citizens, known as Whos, are getting incredibly excited about Christmas. They've decorated their homes with lavish decorations, putting together all the fixings for a lovely roast beast dinner, and are hitting the stores for the latest toys, such as a 'bizzle-bink'.

Apparently, Whoville was a place where the really great gifts were ones that were nonexistent in the human world. But, no matter. Christmas was a great big deal to the townspeople of Whoville...they even had their own song welcoming Christmas Day.

But not everyone in the vicinity of Whoville was excited and happy about the holiday. There was one person nearby who hated everything about Christmas. I mean it, he was one miserable miser of a man, who chose to live alone, away from everyone.

This man was the Grinch.

And he was about to do something incredibly despicable.

Living in an out-of-the-way cave away from civilization with his faithful canine companion, Max, the Grinch was one who hated the people of Whoville and their Christmas celebrations. He has hated Christmas for fifty-three years. Why this was the case however wasn't shown in the original version though. I have heard that they go into further detail in the Jim Carrey version, but as I haven't seen that one yet, I can't really comment on that.

What I can tell you is that the Grinch is so against Christmas that he has a rather selfish wish in regards to the holiday. Though, I guess you can't really hold that against him, as he was born with a heart that was two sizes too small.

His dream on one particular Christmas Eve is to prevent Christmas from coming to Whoville. At any cost. After all, if he wasn't going to enjoy the holiday, why should anyone else, right?

It isn't until he sees his dog Max covered with snow in such a way that Max looks like Santa Claus, the Grinch comes up with an evil plan, complete with a grin so obnoxious, it would be almost creepy.

His plan was to dress up as Santa (with Max getting dressed up like a reindeer), and head to Whoville in a sleigh filled with bags. The difference? Instead of leaving toys and goodies behind at every house, he would instead take every holiday decoration away from the poor, unsuspecting citizens of Whoville.

That's right, folks. The Grinch was going to steal Christmas from everyone.

Isn't that a kick in the pants?

Making their way towards Whoville, the Grinch is ready to steal items quicker than a shoplifter at a Kwik-E-Mart, and he's thinking that nothing...nobody would dare stop him now.

Enter sweet little Cindy Lou Who, who awakens from her slumber in time to see the Grinch helping himself to the Christmas tree. I assume that had I come downstairs to see Santa stealing our tree, I would have been horrified. Heck, had my dad come downstairs to see Santa stealing our tree, he probably would have shot him!

Alas, the Grinch was prepared for the inquisitive nature of Cindy Lou, and he explained that her tree was broken, and that he needed to take the tree back to his workshop to fix it. He then dismisses Cindy Lou back to bed.

Now, if I were Cindy Lou, I probably wouldn't have bought that story. But she was young and impressionable, so I guess we can kind of overlook it. Too bad that Cindy Lou didn't scream out loud there and then...otherwise her house might have been the only casualty. Because she didn't, the Grinch wasted no time in stealing all the presents underneath every tree...and then the tree itself. He even raided pantries, cupboards, and storerooms to steal all the food necessary for making those delicious Christmas dinners. He even stole all the supply of roast beast! How inhuman!

To add insult to injury, he even takes the decorations off of the village storefronts, and even robs the village of the town Christmas tree in the middle of Whoville Square! It's a wonder that the Grinch and Max even made it back home after stealing what must have been several thousand pounds of Christmas themed merchandise and decorations!

But it would all be worth it. The Grinch had successfully stolen every trace of Christmas from Whoville. It would almost be worth it to the Grinch when the people of Whoville woke up Christmas morning without any Christmas celebrations at all. He had them right where he wanted them...vulnerable and miserable...just like himself.

But the citizens of Whoville DIDN'T cry. Instead, they sang.

Despite the fact that all of their decorations and presents were gone, the Whos decided to welcome Christmas in their own, happy manner. By singing Christmas carols, and loving each other, and spending time together.

It was a lovely sight to see. That the Whos didn't even need any decorations or presents to have a lovely Christmas. They were going to have that great Christmas anyway.

And that very visual made the Grinch feel quite least at first. He sees the people of Whoville having fun despite all of his crimes against them, and he starts to realize that maybe the gifts and the decorations aren't all that important. And as he realizes this, his heart begins to swell.

And then he notices that the sleigh filled with the Whos Christmas celebrations is about to cascade down the cliffside, and he and Max rush to try and prevent a disaster from happening.

As he does this, his heart grows three sizes, and as a result of this phenomenon, he becomes incredibly strong. So strong that he has the strength of ten Grinches, plus two! That's quite impressive.

And what do you think he did with his newfound strength? That's right! He took that sleigh back to Whoville and gave them back their Christmas gifts, decorations, and yes, even the roast beast, and the citizens of Whoville happily welcome the Grinch into their homes and hearts for a good old-fashioned Whoville Christmas.

You know, I think that the Grinch can teach us a couple of life lessons here. don't need to have fancy bells and whistles, or even expensive gifts to simply have a wonderful Christmastime. All you really need is the Christmas spirit to guide you through. And the love of good friends and family.

But secondly, it doesn't pay to be miserable towards others who just want to celebrate the holiday. It's only when the Grinch saw what the real holiday spirit was all about that he started to get what the real meaning was.

And, hey...if the Grinch could get can everyone else, as far as I'm concerned.

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