The Grinch and Other Christmas Tales
Alright, so I’m Jewish and don’t technically celebrate Christmas. When I was a kid, my family put up a small Christmas tree, in the interests of pluralism. I didn’t mind, as this meant an extra present. Growing up, I watched Christmas movies and listened to Christmas music, unavoidable when the TV only had five stations. In 1966, when I was seven, the cartoon version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” aired, followed the next year by “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the first of the Peanuts animated features. These became my Christmas touchstones, shrouded today in nostalgia.
I have no interest in seeing either of these again—I know they won’t hold up to my memories, or the magic of seeing them as a child. Still, two images are indelible.
The first is the Grinch’s dog, Max, with a branch strapped to his head, standing in as Rudolph, and struggling under the weight of his ersatz antlers. If I had a sleigh, I’d want Max to guide it, fleas and all. The second is Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, the sad little sapling he stubbornly clings to, which, like Max, tips under the weight of a single ornament. If I had a Christmas tree, I’d want it to look like Charlie Brown’s. Maybe because Max exuded dignity and goodness and Charlie Brown vested his tree with dignity and goodness. Maybe because I’m stubborn like Charlie Brown—goodness knows, I’ve kicked at enough footballs that have been pulled away at the last minute.
Or maybe it has to do with pulling for the underdog. I don’t know. Things could be worse—I could have been born in 1990, and look back nostalgically at South Park’s 1997 Christmas episode, “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo.”
Be thankful for small things this holiday season.