The Grinch shows up early, and I'm happy to welcome him

By Jayson Jacoby November 18, 2011 06:02 pm

We were watching TV the other day — Nov. 13, to be specific — and a promo came on for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

The program (the original, and in my view vastly superior, cartoon version, not the decent Jim Carrey movie) was scheduled to air the very next day.

I glanced over at my son, Alexander, and my daughter, Rheann, who were sitting on the sofa.

Each of our faces showed a similar bemused expression.

“The Grinch already?” I said. “It’s still almost two weeks until Thanksgiving, for criminy sake.”

I probably sounded sort of disgusted — as though this premature pushing of the holiday season was an affront to my sense of tradition.

But later that day I got to thinking about this.

And I decided that rather than bemoan the trend I would celebrate it.

The Thanksgiving/Christmas period is supposed to a joyful interval, after all, an optimistic conclusion to the year.

So why shouldn’t we get on with the good tidings even before the glut of Halloween candy has been consumed?

A few extra weeks immersed in the holiday spirit hardly qualifies as a social upheaval, certainly.

And what with the economy, the continuing occupy protests and the general dissatisfaction with the status quo, who wouldn’t benefit from the extended availability of eggnog lattes and pumpkin pie blizzards?

(Well, according to obesity statistics, a whole lot of us wouldn’t benefit. But never mind that — we still have January for beginning, and ending, various wholesome new year’s resolutions.)

Cynics will no doubt argue that this early onset of holiday cheer is merely a ploy by the retail industry to capitalize on Americans’ gift-giving proclivities.

Of course it is.

But what’s the harm in that?

I don’t believe that the appearance in stores of Christmas decorations, while pumpkin paraphernalia still crowds the bargain bins, puts any special pressure on shoppers to abandon their typical yuletide budgetary discretion.

And husbands and other serial procrastinators will jostle in the aisles on Christmas Eve despite stores’ most earnest efforts to entice shoppers to pre-holiday sales.

My goal, though, has nothing to do with gift lists.

I’m trying to use that “Grinch” promotion, to which I initially reacted with indignation, as a sort of epiphany.

I want to cultivate that feeling which is unique to the holiday season, to begin to reap its harvest now, in defiance of, rather than deference to, the calendar.

The feeling that the qualities we associate with Christmas — the inestimable values of family, and charity, and the faith that happiness, not strife, is the defining characteristic of our species — represent reality rather than banal greeting card slogans.

I cherish this feeling.

As we all do.

And every year I am plagued by melancholy when that feeling fades.

When the fir that infused the house with fragrance stands propped in a snowbank, awaiting the chipper.

When the last scrap of tinsel has been vacuumed.

When the CD of favorite carols has been returned to the cabinet, there to gather dust.

So welcome, Grinch.

I’m glad you’re back.


Jayson Jacoby is editor of the Baker City Herald.