17 December 2008
how the grinch got grinchy
with all due respect to doctor seuss, who i have admired since childhood, i need to say a few words on how the famous grinch got to be how he was, before that magical christmas in whoville. i don't think that it had anything to do with his shoe size or his heart size, either.
personally, i think that the grinch, living as he did in a suburb of whoville, was forced to spend time leading up to christmas in some malls, shopping for stuff that was supposed to make the people around him happy, but that more than likely led to thinly veiled disappointment and a feeling of awkwardness and failure that tainted his enjoyment of the roast beast.
because once you've braved the horror that is the modern pre-holiday consumer orgy, you feel like you deserve some sort of award for just being able to say you survived.
everyone has their own hot points. for some, it's the crowds, who constantly look like they're about to trash the entire city in a frenzy of frustration at being unable to find the right things to spend on. for others, it's the consistent repetition of trite phrases devoid of anything approaching meaning for decades.
but for me personally- and i know i say this every year- it's the music. look, i have no problem with the classics, although i don't even want to hear them six hours a day seven days a week either. my problem is that every year i seem to get subjected to more and more painful fare that is supposed to make me feel cheery (and rich, i think), but which actually leaves me feeling like i want to practice my knife throwing skills.
my last foray into fear exposed me to a few treats such as the hi-NRG disco version of "feliz navidad" (abysmal in any form, so in a way it's impressive to see something that manages to lower the bar on this one), the R2D2 christmas song (not half as interesting as it sounds) and celine dion singing o holy night (o holy mother of god, get it away from me).
in a way, though, these tracks are what christmas is now. they are all irritating, crassly commercial and patently phony. one could be forgiven for getting a little grinch-y when surrounded by this sort of dreck year after year and being told that if you don't act like you're enjoying it, you're a miserable excuse for a human being who's ruining it for everyone else.
the grinch, of course, finds his redemption, because the whos aren't merely insane consuming machines, but little folks who are able to enjoy the presence of family and friends even in the absence of objects. this is what people remember from the story, of course. but what gets lost is that the poor guy may have had perfectly valid reasons for ending up the way he did.
personally, i'm in favour of the general slowdown that happens in most western countries around this time of year. i think it does us all good to take a collective breather. in fact, i think that simply taking the time to relax and not worry about the things that occupy the rest of our lives would be a great step towards engendering all those nice feelings that christmas purports to be about.
but when you're thrown into the cesspool of consumerism or forced (as i have been many times) to endure the grim horror that is holiday travel, the end effect can be quite the opposite.
and so are many grinches born.