Theology & Spirituality

Becoming Whoville

One of my favorite holiday traditions will always be watching the classic Christmas specials with my daughters: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, and especially Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated version, not the Jim Carrey flick). Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic offers perhaps the best message for Christian children during the Nativity season.

Most are familiar with the story of the wicked Grinch whose heart was bitter and cold and whose hate for Christmas ran so deep that he was willing to do anything in his power to stop it. The Grinch particularly despised that magical moment on Christmas morning when all the residents of Whoville would come out of their homes and hold hands while singing.

So the Grinch decided that he would concoct a plan to prevent Christmas from coming by stealing everything relating to that joyous celebration he despised so much: all their Christmas dinners, trees, decorations, lights, and presents. In this way, the Grinch would remove all visible signs of Christmas, which he believed would killing the holiday spirit.

But after all that work, after all the evil-plotting, after all the stealing, the Whos of Whoville, every single one of them, despite having no trees, no dinners, no presents, and no lights, still came out on Christmas morning holding hands and singing as jubilant as ever!

This stunned the Grinch. How could this happen after successfully removing every single visible sign of Christmas to the smallest of details?

Then the Grinch had an epiphany:

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

The Grinch realized that he had no power to stop Christmas. No amount of stealing or conniving could stop it. The lack of visual décor or the absence of aroma emanating from Christmas hams did nothing to diminish the spirit of joy in the Whos. This because the true power of Christmas transcends all that other trivial stuff. The true spirit of Christmas is far too powerful for any person on earth to stop.

Dr. Seuss’s brilliant Christmas tale gives us a powerful message to reflect upon during this holiday season. It reminds us that so many of our petty disputes, including the “Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas” battle, are inconsequential. It reminds us that Christmas is not defined by how much we spend on gifts or how many gifts we receive, it is defined by God’s love for the world, a love so strong that He decided to pay us a visit in the most inconceivable and humble way imaginable; as a vulnerable and weak baby requiring constant care, born to a poor peasant woman in a manger, a place for farm animals to sleep. What a way for the Creator of the universe to enter His creation!

Let us remember the “reason for the season” and stand together holding hands while singing the same chorus just like the Whos. Let us become Whoville.

May the blessings of God be with you all! Merry Christmas!


Chris Smith

Chris Smith

Chris is currently employed as a library specialist for Middle Eastern language materials at Duke University. Prior to that he spent two years as a teaching assistant and Ph.D. student in Islamic Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. He holds a M.A. in Religion from Wake Forest and a B.A. in Global Studies and Religious Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill. Chris has two daughters and currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC.

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