Are you grumpy this holiday season? Have you always been this way? My daughter and I watched the movie version of The Grinch last night while we started putting up the Christmas tree and wrapping gifts. I had forgotten that – at least in this version of the story – The Grinch had a reason for being the way he was. When he was just a little green guy, he was bullied by the Whos. No one really thinks about that part when they encounter a Grinch, except perhaps someone like Cindy Lou Who.
My son played The Grinch in the 8th grade music program last Friday. Given that he’s 13 and has been kind of grumpy lately, I thought he was well cast. Does The Grinch roll his eyes?
I have a friend whose parents were in a car accident on Christmas day. Her dad died and her mom was hospitalized for quite a while. She’s a friend from high school and we don’t connect often these days. But I wouldn’t really blame her if Christmas brought out her green and fuzzy side.
I have another friend who was going through a divorce about this time last year. The holidays are so hard when you have loss attached.
So what can we do? I think we can all learn from Cindy Lou Who.
1) Don’t judge. Cindy Lou saw a little tiny piece of goodness in The Grinch and she was willing to go there first. Even though he tried to scare her, she advocated for him.
2) Get the back story. Empathy is helpful, and sometimes those people who harbor a grudge just need someone to listen. The Grinch wasn’t going to go there, so Cindy Lou got the story from others who were there when he was younger.
3) Understand multiple points of view. Sometimes there are pieces of the story under the surface that don’t connect with what we want to hear, so we dismiss them. But they may be very important if we want the whole picture. I have a former co-worker who is just very bitter about several events from his past. At the same time, he’s a guy with a wonderful sense of humor who is really fun to be around. Some people have dismissed him. I think he just needs to work through a few things in his mind. He’s super talented and needs our patience.
4) Invite them in. Christmas should be a time of connection and goodwill. Grinches are probably the ones who need it the most. Cindy Lou made a great excuse to get The Grinch to join the festivities. And it worked.
5) Be patient. We can’t fix problems that have taken years to build. We may have to endure some bad behavior. But think about what you’re trying to achieve. The Grinch had a lot of issues to work through. A heart full of unwashed socks, a soul full of gunk…it takes a lot of determination and love to get through the stink, stank, stunk.