It’s no secret that I’ve had a tough time this Christmas. For me, the spirit was gone (If you missed it, check out Friday’s post). But friends and family encouraged me to find the good in the season, to remember what it was really about. They said watch movies, wrap gifts, have hot chocolate. I listened: I watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
The Grinch is my hero because he was mean. I’m not talking about the Ron Howard/Jim Carrey movie where they gave the Grinch a backstory and rationale for his actions. Nah, that’s crap. Go back to the original cartoon or even the book: the Grinch hated Christmas because he didn’t like the songs, the happiness, the joy. The Whos were too loud singing their Christmas songs. He hated it—hated them—because they were happy. Because they were smiling. I think only the Evil Queen from Snow White had a worse reason for being a villain.
While I was in college, I worked full time in a bank vault. I think between school and work I was leading 18-19 hour days. I still remember my answering machine message (yes I had an answering machine): “Hey, this is Chris. I’m either at school or work, sleeping or studying. Leave me a message.” In short, I was beat in those days. EXHAUSTED. Anyway, I worked with a pretty, bubbly blond named Dawn. One day, Dawn came in, exuberant as ever, big smile and saying Hi. My response: “I hate a happy mother@%?!. Shut up!”
Now that was mean. It really was. And Dawn’s face fell. And then it got funny. I laughed! And I laughed because it was mean.
I know, I know, you’re already at “Damn, Chris, that was cold!” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m also the guy who made Lucifer my hero. But, yes, it was mean. And it was delicious! Mean resonates with us. We don’t like Voldemort for his fashion sense (he has ONE robe, people! ONE) or Vader for his prolific vocabulary (it’s all Something, Something, Something Dark Side) or Eric Cartman because he is so cool. Each one of us has a mean streak: we’ve all wanted to push a kid down at the park or snatch someone’s Halloween candy or snickered when somebody fell (or maybe that’s just me). Mean is okay. It is real and human and okay.
So I listened to everything my friends and family said Friday night. I took my daughter to church to see a live nativity scene, petted a camel and some goats, and talked to her about Jesus’ birth (I might be mean but I still have a soul!) Then we dropped the kids off and my wife and I got coffee and took a drive looking at Christmas lights. We weren’t looking for the good, elaborate ones mind you: we found the tackiest, pathetic, sorriest displays we could, including our own (though I did finally get the lights to work…on Christmas Eve). And we laughed! Then we came home and watched Gremlins. And it was a good Christmas.