How the Grinch Stole Christmas…According to Max

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch,
Who is my life-long companion,
Did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
And I may be the only one who ever really knew the reason.
For the Grinch was quite smart, even brilliantly bright,
And though he was jaded and wound way too tight,
He peered from the shadows and saw through it all
That the scope of this celebration was two sizes too small.

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For,
As he pondered and thought
Of those disabused
He stood there on Christmas Eve, sad for the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a compassionate frown
At the forgotten widows in the corners of town.
For he knew not every one down in Who-ville beneath
Was accepted and happy or bearing all teeth.

“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he gasped with real drear.
“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”
Then he sighed, with his tired heart nervously thumping,
“I MUST find some way to stop Christmas from coming!”

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For,
Tomorrow, he knew…
…some of the girls and boys
Would wake frightened dearly. They’d cry and be coy.
Because – oh the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
The deafening silence that rings louder than noise.

Then those ignored, neglected, rejected from feasts,
They’d be fleeced! And decreased!
Yes the “least,”
“beasts,”
And one’s from the “East.”
While the Whos feast on ignorance, and apathy yeast
Which was something the Grinch feared would never be ceased!

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For the new
Mayor of Whoville
Had proposed a great wall
And the Whos just kept feasting, the tall and the small.
The Grinch felt the insults, his exile still stinging,
And knew the deported the Whos would start bringing!

They’d swing and they’d fling!
Then they’d naively sing!
Since he knew the strangers had not done anything,
The more the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!
“Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!
“I MUST stop this Christmas from coming!
….But HOW?”

Then he got an idea!
An awe-full idea!
The Grinch
Got a wonderful, awe-full idea!

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“I know just what to do!” The Grinch gasped with new hope,
And thought how to save them from their slippery slope.
And he pondered and cried, “What a great Grinchy trick!
“With this coat and this hat, I look just like Saint Nick!”

“All I need is a reindeer…”
The Grinch looked around.
But since reindeer were banned, there was none to be found.
And the Grinch gave a sigh…
And with tears simply said,
“If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!”
So he called his friend, me. Then he carefully thread
A solitary horn on top of my head.

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Now,
Some have since questioned
And unkindly asked
Why I’d help out the Grinch
With this “devious” task.

But the Grinch was cast out
Over looked and put down
By all the “true” Whos
Who desired a “safe” town.

And the Grinch, all alone, forgotten, needed care
So I stayed by his side when no one else dared.
And his plan was not bad, let’s return… he declared,
“This is stop number one,” at the first home adrift
With misguided dreams and a most ignorant mist.

He went through the chimney, an uncomfortable pinch,
But it hurt less than scowls often thrown at the Grinch.
He remembered the pain from the past year or two –
Being stuck in the cold, while his fears slowly grew.
Then he fell out with soot from his head to his toe,
“These stockings,” he said, ‘are the first things to go!”

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Then he took remainders of trifles most unpleasant
Reminding the Whos of his forgotten presence.
Their guns! And flags waiving! Pounding like drums!
Smart phones and selfie sticks leaving them numb!
All distractions now gone. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Set them afire, up in smoke, in the chimbley!

For he knew that he’d need to surprise them at least,
To release from the grasp of the self-centered beast!
To open their eyes to so many abashed
And accept once again those they treated like trash.

Then he took everything that had masked with fake glee.
“And NOW!” gasped the Grinch, “I will stuff up the tree!”

And the Grinch took the tree, to inspire true love
To force every Who to be vulnerable as doves.
His plan near complete, yet he heard a small Who!
Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was honest and true.

She was one of the few who cared, this Who daughter
She’d got out of bed to get the Grinch water.
She came near the Grinch and asked, “Santy Claus, why,
“Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?”

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But, I know, that Cindy-lou Who at once did click
With Grinch’s soft heart, and he eased her fear quick!
“Why, my sweet little tot,” said Grinch, touched inside,
“There’s a light on this tree that won’t light on one side.
“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.
“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”

For he cared for the child, and he meant what he said.
And he accepted her drink as she went to bed.
He returned to the kitchen and set down the cup.
The openness of that Who child choked him all up.

But he still had a task
And did light a new fire,
So that eyes would be open, for all the Who liars
Who ignored and distrusted those out on the wire.

And he thought of the Whos
All asleep in the house
Who’d wake with a start, as if they’d seen a small mouse.

Then
He did the same thing
To the other Who’s houses

Who cared less
For him than
Even dirty old mouses.

It was a quarter past dawn…
All the Whos, still a-bed
Blissfully ignorant
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it with injustice, distractions and wrappings!
The blinders, the safety, and all of the trappings!

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He took it all up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit
To see if the the Who’s would wake up with a jump-it!
“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!” and their self-centered humming.
“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
“Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!

“That’s a noise,” sighed the Grinch,
“That I simply MUST hear!”
So he peered to the streets, put his hand to his ear
And he did hear a sound new as fallen snow.
It started out low. Then it started to grow…

And at first there was shock!
But then, they sounded caring!
Could it be so!
Yes, it was caring! Very!

The Grinch’s plan had worked!
He had tears in his eyes!
And he wept!
For a new day was soon to arise!

Most Whos down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Came out to the streets, to welcome in all.

He thought they’d accuse, but instead Christmas came!
It truth and in beauty it came without shame!

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And the Grinch saw the Whos welcome in from the snow
The outcast and lonely: “Yes, let it be so!
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
True Christmas joy and hope was unwrapped there before
And the Grinch thought the Whos discovered something more
“Maybe Christmas,” he urged, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

And then my dear friend
Well…when the Whos saw the way,
The glad Grinch went right down
To join them all that day!
He knew there’d still be some Whos who’d put up a fight
But with new-found acceptance some Whos saw the light
And that gave the Grinch assurance at very least,
That Christmas is welcoming all to the feast!

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Matted

Max’s hair often gets matted, especially just under his ears. It’s hard to see, but once I start petting him and scratching around his ears, I often get a big handful of clumped up hair.

Sadly, there is not much Max can do about this and I am pretty bad at both preventing the mats and getting rid of them when they emerge. Since he very rarely shows any sign of being hurt, I quickly forget it is a problem. The mats grow on unseen until they are really too big to ignore.

And Max has taught me that while I don’t experience matted hair like he does, there are many dirty, useless things that clump up in my own life too. Whether it is nagging doubt, failures, hateful thoughts, or apathy, my heart seems to experience a similar state of matted material at times.

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After some quick research, I learned that Max’s mats are probably caused by a mixture of movement (scratching his head/ears), old hair loosening but not falling out, and external dirt sticking it all together. As the old hair is pressed together with dirt and clings to the hair still growing, it clumps together in a tangled mess.

Similarly, I recognize that when I just can’t let go of something that is wearing me down, when the stresses of the world press upon me, and when external concerns cling to me, my heart gets matted and tangled. If I don’t fully let the self-doubt and bitterness fall away from me, it gets tangled up in the new directions I am trying to move and is all pressed together by hatefulness that is still too apparent in the world.

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I have also learned that mats are bad not only because they impede the growth of new hair, but also because they inhibit oxygen getting to the skin and begin to pull on the skin so that it is weakened. On top of that they become potential breeding grounds for parasites that can cause even more damage.

The mats of the heart seem to create similar problems. They keep me tangled up in unhelpful issues and make new growth harder. These mats make it harder for my soul to breathe the fresh air of forgiveness and easier for other forms of carelessness and selfishness to emerge.

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The good news in all this is that mats can be removed. But, Max has taught me that they must be removed carefully and that often it takes the help of others. Since mats are formed close to the skin, which is thin and fragile, most mats need to be worked out by hand. I have had to cut out some of Max’s mats, but that too must be done slowly and carefully so as not to cause more harm. And usually I have to have my spouse’s help so that one of us can comfort and distract Max while the other works out the mats.

I’m the kind of person that has about the same amount of patience as Max when trying to work out the problematic parts of my life. And when doing something as personal as working out the mats of my heart, I do not want to open up to others. But Max has taught me it is crucial to take time and allow others to help, because my impatient scratching at these mats only tends to make them worse. He has taught me that it is important to really try to get at the root of the mat, but that sometimes I have to work away one tangled problem at a time. I have to identify and deal with each strand so that I can really let it go.

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The other good news is that the hair itself is not the problem. The heart itself is not bad. And the work of getting mats out reaffirms the importance and goodness of what had gotten tangled. Max has taught me that in no way is the hair or the heart problematic or awry. They just need care and maintenance.

Max has also taught me that even after getting rid of the mats, they tend to return quickly. There’s something about that spot that lends itself to matted hair. Which makes it even more important to regularly brush out the old hair and care for the new. He has taught me the importance of letting go of harmful things and cultivating the ways I can grow in love and compassion, and to do that over and over again.

So thank you Max for teaching me how to identify and carefully remove mats, whether they be literal in hair or more symbolic in heart. Thank you for being patient with me (and teaching me to be more patient with myself) as I learn better how to address these mats.