Moral Lessons From 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

Key takeaways from Dr. Seuss' famous children's story

The Grinch and Cindy Lou

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Dr. Seuss’ mythical creature the Grinch may not be a mythical creature after all. There are many people who lack the ability to find happiness. During Christmastime, when there is an increasing overdose of holiday merchandise, marketing, and social media noise, there is also increasing apathy toward the brouhaha being raised over the mindless expenditure and consumerism.

Commercialism and Cynicism

All around, you can see malls filled with stressed-out shoppers. Retailers seek to woo their customers with enticing deals, even if they are working on wafer-thin margins. That's not to mention the overworked staff in these retail outlets, who probably will never spend a meaningful Christmas with their own family or friends.

You’d think that the Grinch is your 90-year-old neighbor, who does not like noisy kids and their families. You’d believe that the neighborhood police officer is the Grinch, who appears out of nowhere to clamp down boisterous Christmas parties. Of course, the Grinch could be your dad who wants to play vigilante when you go for a night out with friends.

Who Is the Grinch?

According to the classic book, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," by Dr. Seuss, the pen name of Theodor Geisel, the Grinch was a mean, nasty, and vindictive person who lived to the north of Who-ville, a small town where people had hearts as sweet as sugar pops. The residents of Who-ville were good as gold citizens, who did not have one evil thought in their collective minds. Naturally, this irked our green and mean Grinch, who sought ways to destroy the happiness of the people of Who-ville. As the book explains:

"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small."

With a heart that small, there would be no chance that the Grinch would find any room for happiness. So Grinch continued to be a foot-stomping, cantankerous lunatic, stewing in his own misery for 53 years. Until he hit upon an evil idea to make the lives of the good people not-so-good.

The Christmas Heist

The Grinch decides to play truant, goes down to Who-ville, and steals every present from every house. He does not stop at that. He also steals the Christmas food for the feast, the stockings, and everything that Christmas stands for. Now, it's clear why Dr. Seuss named the story, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The Grinch took away every material that symbolized Christmas.

Not About the Presents

Now ordinarily, if this were a modern-day story, all heck would break loose. But this was Who-ville, the land of goodness. The people of Who-ville did not care for presents or material trappings. For them, Christmas was in their heart. And without any remorse or sadness, the people of Who-ville celebrated Christmas as if they never thought about the Christmas presents. At this point, the Grinch has a moment of revelation, which is expressed in these words:

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: 'How could it be so?'
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.' "

The last line of the extract bears a lot of meaning. Christmas does not come from a store, unlike what compulsive holiday shoppers have been made to believe.

Spirit of the Holiday

Christmas is a spirit, a state of mind, a joyous feeling, the Grinch came to understand. Christmas gifting should come straight from the heart and should be received with an open heart, he learned. True love does not come with a price tag, so don’t try to buy love with expensive gifts.

Every time, you fail to appreciate others, you become a Grinch. People find many reasons to complain but none to express gratitude. Like the Grinch, people hate those who receive and give gifts to others. And they find it convenient to troll those who post their happy Christmas messages on Facebook and other social media.

Focus on Joy

The Grinch story is a lesson in point. If you want to save Christmas from becoming a highly commercialized, marketing season, focus on gifting joy, love, and humor to your loved ones. Learn to enjoy Christmas without ostentatious gifting and frivolous display of wealth. Bring back the old Christmas spirit, where Christmas carols and revelry warm your heart and make you feel happy.

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Your Citation
Khurana, Simran. "Moral Lessons From 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Khurana, Simran. (2021, September 8). Moral Lessons From 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'. Retrieved from Khurana, Simran. "Moral Lessons From 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).