Archived Opinion

Count on me to lead the Grinch Fan Club

About this time each year, when the days and tempers get short and the traffic lines get long — when I begin to see people trudging wearily in and out of stores and shopping malls — I think about the Grinch Club. I start fantasizing about an imaginary organization founded in honor of that nasty, green fellow who stole Xmas — which is not a bad idea. For thousands of people like me who exist in the lower economic strata of this country, Mr. Grinch could become a folk hero — a creep that had the moxie to speak for us all.

Now, before I get an outbreak of knee-jerk outrage from readers, let me explain. First, we need to update Mr. Grinch’s goals and ambitions. He really doesn’t need to steal Xmas presents, you know. Instead, he should be an advocate against giving presents in the first place — at least, those that are outrageously expensive, advertised on TV, and are only available at chain stores and chic boutiques. Maybe the only allowable presents should be those that you make yourself or items that you already own but no longer use — stuff that has sentimental value. We can iron out the specific details at the first meeting of Grinch Inc.

My appreciation for Mr. Grinch has grown out of my own shortcomings, I guess. I simply can’t afford Xmas anymore. Yet my inability to get in there with those joyful shoppers and spend (charge) with gay abandon leaves me with a pronounced sense of guilt and shame. The implication is that if you are not willing to incur debts and inconvenience for your loved ones, you simply don’t love them. That is what the ads on TV seem to imply. In addition, since this is a celebration of the birth of Christ, your lack of involvement suggests that you might also be.... irreligious.

Now, aside from the fact that we all know who is responsible for the massive deception (mass marketing, promotion, advertising, etc.), my primary objection stems from the fact that the Xmas season leaves me depressed and alienated. In addition to being “economically disadvantaged,” I am also a member of that minority in this country who is unmarried, childless and with few family ties. Since I am unable to attend traditional family feasts or participate in those rituals of gift exchange, I end up alone, watching old movies and eating in a restaurant.

It isn’t that I feel left out, but I do have a profound resentment for a holiday that is designed to (a) encourage excessive spending, and (b) promote a sense of inadequacy and loneliness among individuals without family ties. Quite simply, I need an alternate holiday, one that is designed not only for people like me, but also open to anyone who is sick of “getting and spending,” or tired of the crass, commercial aspects of this season, a time that was originally associated with brotherhood and community.

Perhaps, each year at the coming of “this joyous season,” Grinch Inc. could summons its membership to an appropriate meeting place (a mountaintop, a campground or an abandoned hotel). We would spend the day visiting, talking and sharing common interests. Any gifts that we exchanged would be personal items. While we are at it, perhaps we could banish cell phones, iPods and and all of those other “cool” gadgets. There would be campfires, singing and potluck. We would stay until the traffic on the interstate had thinned and radio stations had stopped playing “The Little Drummer Boy.” What do you think?

(Gary Carden is a writer and storyteller who lives in Sylva. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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