Archive for December, 2011

My Inner Grinch

December 20, 2011

We all have our Christmas traditions.  Over the years, several of mine have dropped away, but the tried and true include baking and listening to Christmas music, usually at the same time.  Throw in lots of alcohol and deep-seated doubts over whether any of this is worth while, and — voila — my personal Yuletide cocktail. 

Busy with various jobs this season, I’ve had little time for baking, but I have been listening to music fervidly, hoping the melodies will ignite that mysterious “spirit of Christmas.”  No go.  To date, I’ve only managed to post one Christmas card — to my 92 year old grandmother — and buy two presents — an iTunes gift delivered via e-mail and a solstice candle for myself.   Apparently, the only sweat I going to break in capturing the Christmas spirit is while I’m buried under covers sleeping the long winter’s night away.

Last Friday, running a few weekly errands, I found myself caught in traffic that more closely resembled a log jam than a smooth running stream.  My wrath toward the holiday and the people who mindlessly celebrate it broke to the surface.  Why couldn’t these people treat every day more like Christmas rather than stuffing all their yearly good will and charity into a measly 24 hour period?  From being mildly on-the-fence about the benefits of Christmas, I tumbled over into the Grinchy / Scrooge camp.  “Stupid holiday,” I did more than mutter.  “Stupid people.”

This got me thinking about my brethren the Grinch and Scrooge.  Reading or watching versions of A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas and tut-tutting over their openly villainous acts makes us feel secure:  we are on the inside, like the Whos, warmly nestled in our communal traditions.  No one wants to be Scrooge or the Grinch.  They are the outsiders, befuddled, if not downright angry, at the fun everyone else is having.  Unable to understand, they’ll do their best to stop everyone else’s good time. 

But for some of us, like me, their curmudgeonly behavior is deeply familiar.  Never one to accept anything at face value, at some point during the Christmas season, I perform a similar circling out and back.  Watching others follow their holiday rituals, I puzzle, just like that Grinch, whether with my “grinch-feet, ice cold in the snow” or just stuck in a traffic jam.

This year, my moment of inner-Grinchness led me to ask the I-Ching for guidance.  The hexagram that resulted was 22, Pi, or Grace.  Buried in the explanation was this line:

In human affairs, aesthetic form comes into being when traditions exist that, strong and abiding like mountains, are made pleasing by a lucid beauty

So there one has it — from a 3000 year old Chinese oracle, no less.  Traditions “strong and abiding like mountains.”  Sounds like Christmas to me:  the Nativity, the eggnog, a fir tree with lights, Kris Kringle and his improbable midnight ride, Christmas carols everyone knows at least some of the words to, even — and especially — the Grinch and old Scrooge.  I doubt my heart will grow 3 times with this realization, but I’ll do my best, once again, to find some folks to join hands with and join heartily in the celebrations.

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.