Does the noise, noise, noise of the busy holidays seem more like the mean, green Grinchy scene than the tranquility of quality holiday celebration with friends and family? It’s a common thread in the fabric of our overly hectic lives and there are a few things we can try to help us avoid the Grinch scene.

I’ll preface this with the admission that this post is about Christmas. For me, Christmas is more than a holiday. It’s the greatest story ever told. For readers that celebrate other holidays at this time of year, I wish you prosperity, peace and blessing for your special celebration and in the New Year!

I’ve always loved the animated 1966 version of Dr. Suess’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Of course, I appreciated Jim Carrey’s 2000 version too, but the original version with the narration of Boris Karloff and Thurl Ravenscroft’s “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” are classic and my personal favorite. In particular, the Grinch calls out, in an ambiguous way that the gift giving season is really what he’s so upset about by covertly complaining about all of the noise of the Who children playing with their new toys.

… And they’ll shriek squeaks and squeals, racing round on their wheels.

They’ll dance with Jing-Tinglers

tied onto their heels…

… And they’ll play noisy games like Zoo Zitta Ka Zay…

…a roller-skate type of lacrosse and croquet.

And then they’ll make earsplitting noises de luxe..

….on their great big Electro Who-Cardio Shluxe… 

It’s all so pointless to the Grinch. The Whos, it seems, have merely created an excuse to gather material stuff, run amok and make noise with it. There is no substance to this holiday, except to endeavor to make him miserable. And so, as we know, he devises “a great Grinchy trick” to take it all away, to strip the Whos of every last morsel of their stuff, to steal their reason to run amok and make noise.  As the story goes, he has made off with the whole town packed up tight on his sleigh with his tiny dog Max pulling the way. When he reaches the top of Mount Crumpit, he puts a hand to his ear-

… And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It started in low……then it started to grow. 

The Whos were singing, they weren’t boo-hooing. They all stood in a circle hand-in-hand, with no decorations, no town tree, nothing at all but just themselves in joyful community singing “Welcome Christmas”.

… this sound wasn’t sad.

Why, this sound sounded glad.

Every Who down in Who-ville,the tall and the small……was singing without any presents at all.

He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came.

Somehow or other, it came just the same.

It came without ribbons.

It came without tags.

It came without packages, boxes or bags.

He puzzled and puzzed 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.

Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  

From the time I was a little girl watching and enjoying “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, I got the message. If I could just capture the joy of Christmas.. without getting caught up in the hustle and bustle, the shopping, the traveling, the gift giving, the expectations of others, ahhhh the list goes on…if I could capture that simple joy of the fellowship and love of my own little community, then my Christmas would mean so much more.

If you do get some time off from work and I hope you do, try a few of these ideas to get through this busy time of year so that you have less stress and more joy:

Friends and family agree to a “white elephant” gift exchange with a spending limit. This is a fun way to get a generic gift that’s either funny, practical or frivolous that would make your recipient smile. This takes all of the pressure off and no more “What am I going to get for Dad?” You also don’t overspend. For a white elephant gift exchange, see the common rules at https://www.whiteelephantrules.com/

Take some time out for yourself. We get so busy that we forget or forgo our self care. Here are some great self care ideas- Get your feet pedicured, go float for an hour in an Epsom salt float tank, take your own Epsom salt bath with aromatic salts and essential oils like Eucalyptus, Lavender, or Rosemary, have a scalp and face massage, get a body wrap, try a hydro massage, have a holistic facial, try a sauna session, bundle up and take a walk at Point Defiance, or go swimming at the Y and climb in the hot pool after your swim.

Give experiences rather than material gifts. We’ve already got this one down pretty well, but it really does take a lot of the “busy” out of the holidays and allows you to enjoy more time at home with your loved ones during your time off. Most experiential businesses offer online gift certificate options for your convenience that can be printed out and put in a Christmas sock or gently laid on the boughs of your Christmas tree to be discovered on Christmas morning. Easy, thoughtful and stress-free.

Friends and family agree to an old fashioned Christmas. Do you have a favorite place to visit? Maybe your family owns a cabin or back-country property? If it’s accessible at Christmastime, caravan or have everyone meet at the favorite place or out of the way spot. Someone brings the smoker and wood chips, someone brings the turkey, someone brings the permit for cutting down a Christmas tree, someone brings cranberries, popcorn and plastic needles and string…you get the idea. Spend 4 days in quiet family solitude without phones, ipads, tablets, Twitter, Snapchat, and FaceBook. Play games, play cards, string garland, smoke the turkey, play in the snow, read a good book, sit around a campfire and reminisce about Christmases past. Share The Night Before Christmas with the kids by lantern light.

Cornell University psychology professor, Tom Gilovich, says that experiences are more satisfying than receiving material possessions because experiences connect you with other people. I say that’s “Community”. He goes on to say that no matter how “invested you are in material possessions”,… “they remain separate from you”…”and, “we are, arguably, the sum total of our experiences.”

Material possessions get old, we get bored with them, and they are cast off. But “memories of things we did are often burnished with time”. “We reflect on our accomplishments and the scenery of the climb up the trail and not how many mosquito bites we got.” I love these analogies. They are so accurate and eloquent.

Make memories you will never forget, that will be burnished with time, cherished as a Christmas past- and capture the simple joy of the fellowship and love of your own community this Christmas. God Bless one and all. Merry Christmas!