The questions my child asks amaze me. Sometimes the questions are repetitive and frustrating, but other times the simplicity of his question causes me to examine things I overlook each day and take for granted. One such instance was just the other night. In typical holiday fashion, the television was tuned to a Christmas show – the animated cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and that was followed by the Jim Carrey live-action version. We were full-on Grinch when my little guy asked me if the Grinch was real. Of course my immediate answer was, “No, of course not. It’s just pretend.” But the more time I spent thinking about that question, the more I realized that I was wrong. Grinches do exist. That thought inspired today’s post. And when he’s a little bit older and can wrap his little mind around it, I’ll share my Yes-Vriginia-inspired response with him. But for now, I think I’ll just let his innocence be. He’ll never get that back and he’ll have enough to worry about when he’s old enough to know better.
Yes, Jack, Grinches do exist. My precious little guy, Grinches are all around us every day. Sure, they are not the furry green creatures with weird tufts of hair on their heads you imagine. No, they exist as people just like you and me. We interact with them nearly everyday, most of the time not knowing their ulterior motives. And I would imagine that much like that fictional Grinch, their hearts are about two sizes too small. Now don’t get me wrong, you know that I would never encourage you to be critical of others, but the truth is you will meet some Grinches in your life and knowing how to deal with them will only make your life easier, my son. We all have Grinches in our lives – each and every one of us. And while most of them have no intention of breaking into your house at night and stealing your Christmas tree, they do want to take something from you. It has been my experience that the Grinches in my life try every day to take something more valuable. You see, some people just can’t be happy until they see others unhappy. I can’t explain what odd workings of their brains (or their reduced heart size) produce such delusions, but they do. And it’s your job to ensure that the Grinches in your life always go away empty handed. The truth is, happiness is invaluable. There are few things in life that are worth as much.
Your Grinch might be disguised as the rude cashier at the grocery store huffing and puffing about a price check. It might be guy who cut you off in traffic this morning. It might even be someone whom you thought to be a friend. Some people are fickle and quite frequently think only of themselves. Those are the kinds of people to avoid. They will only bring you down. Those friends-turned-Grinches will hurt you the most, so I would urge you to quickly move on and don’t look back. Remember, you’re not headed that way.
You see, each and every day is filled with thousands of tiny decisions just waiting to be made… what shirt should I wear, should I take this road or that road, what will I eat for lunch – things that are really meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But also among those decisions is one that you’ll need to put some real thought into each day… Is the Grinch you’re facing worth it? Sure it seems like a simple concept but it can prove complicated. Each time you’re faced with a Grinch, stop and think of your Dad and ask yourself, “Is this Grinch worth it?” And by “worth it”, I mean is this person, thing, or action worth you being unhappy? Is that teenager with an attitude at the check out counter or that angry driver worth ruining an entire day over? Are they worth you allowing them to control an entire day of your life that you will never get another chance at? I think you’ll find that the answer most of the time is no.
But don’t allow my words to turn you cold to the world. While there are Grinches, there are many more good, honest people in this world. These are the people to surround yourself with. And though sometimes it may seem as though you are surrounded only by Grinches, just reach out your hand, open your heart, and you’ll find a friend.
Yes, Jack, there are Grinches. But just like in the story, the people of Whoville didn’t need all those “packages, boxes, or bags” to have a meaningful Christmas, it came anyway. And just the same your life will continue and you’ll no doubt succeed once you’ve weeded out all those Grinches.