“On the Second Day of Christmas MoSop gave to me”…
A Jeffrey Holland Grinch Story
You will recall from Dr. Seuss’s holiday horror story, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, that the devilish Grinch determined to rob Who-ville of every holiday treat. In a nefarious scheme in which the Grinch dressed as Santa himself, he moved through Who-ville taking every package, tree, ornament, and stocking.
As he left the city with his sack full of stolen gifts, he chuckled in delight over the pain his actions would cause the people of Who-ville.
He climbed to the top of a mountain where he anxiously waited to hear the sound of youthful anguish coming from the city below. He even cupped his hand to his ear in eager anticipation.
But what he heard instead were the joyful sounds of happy people celebrating Christmas! He was chagrined – and amazed. He couldn’t imagine it, but Christmas had arrived in spite of himself! Though the people of Who-ville had no trees to trim, no ornaments to enjoy, no packages to unwrap, they were having a wonderful Christmas anyway. It was more than the Grinch could fathom.
And he puzzeled 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. Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Part of the purpose for telling the story of Christmas is to remind us that Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Indeed, however, delightful we feel about it, even as children, each year it “means a little bit more”. And no matter how many times we read the biblical account of that evening in Bethlehem, we always come away with a thought – or two – we haven’t had before.
…Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decoration – those delightfully generous and important expressions of our love at Christmas – should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby and His birth, who prompts the giving of such gifts.
As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh…for that very reason, I, like you, need to remember the very plain scene, even the poverty, of a night devoid of tinsel or wrapping, or goods of this world. Only when we see that single, sacred, unadorned object of our devotion – the Babe of Bethlehem – will we know why “’tis the season to be jolly“, and why the giving of gifts is so appropriate.
This has been an excerpt of a message entitled “Maybe Christmas doesn’t Come From A Store” given by Jeffrey R. Holland in 1976 while serving as President of Brigham Young Univerisity. A reprint is found in the December 1977 Ensign Magazine. Elder Holland is currently an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.