How the Grinch failed to steal Christmas

Joseph Fahim
5 Min Read

I was never a big aficionado of Christmas tunes. “Jingle Bells, “Santa Clause is Coming to Town and the like never gave me the sense of elation it did everybody else.

When I was in the fifth grade, one Christmas song struck me during music class. “Little Drummer Boy was one of the songs we had to memorize for the annual choir concert (long before my voice underwent a radical transformation).

The song is about a poor young boy who plays his drums for baby Jesus because he is unable to give him an appropriate gift. The lyrics gave me goose bumps for reasons I could never articulate.

“Drummer whet my appetite for more Christmas cheer. Every December I had to listen to “Ava Maria, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, “Let it Snow and “The First Noel. For a brief spell, I managed to enjoy Christmas.

Time changes everything though and the older I grew, so did my cynicism towards Christmas.

There was nothing spiritual to celebrate anymore as Christmas became the epitome of consumerism. The fundamental joys of the season were replaced with the overburden of gifts, decorations, merchandise and parties.

The holiday turned into a massive global competition, and Christmas shopping became a monstrous force powerful enough to crush anyone’s nest egg. Christmas, in Egypt and elsewhere, is just another occasion to show off and be self-indulgent.

Near the beginning of the decade, I decided to do the unthinkable: I boycotted Christmas.

A year later, I bought “It’s A Wonderful Life – the Christmas classic I’d never seen before.

As I watched, my heart shattered with George Baily’s sacrifice and the dreams he gives up for his family and community. At the end of the film, George opens the angel Clarence’s note, which read, “No one is born to be a failure, no one is poor who has friends. At that moment, for the first and only time, my eyes were drenched with tears of joy.

At the age of 19, I was a little kid again, with a heart overwhelmed with faith, awe and unadulterated joy. “It’s a Wonderful Life is still my favorite movie of all time.

Christmas has transcended its religious origins and is celebrated by people of every color, race and religion. What makes Christmas such a unique and joyful affair is its ability to unite people.

For me, Christmas has always been the time to bask in the warmth and comfort of friends and family; a time to act and feel schmaltzy without being embarrassed or ashamed.

A perfect Christmas embodied my vision of heaven: A place where worries don’t exist, where one is surrounded by loved ones for what feels like eternity.

I’ve spent the last six Christmases away from my family and friends. Every year, I try to recapture my past Christmas memories through my record collection and movies.

A splendid article appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Times referring to classic Christmas films and music as the only enduring certainty in the modern season. The reason is simple: The films and music are the only current aspect of Christmas that never changes.

Prior to writing this article, I was watching the cartoon classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas. I felt a strong nostalgia as I followed Charlie Brown in his quest to discover the true meaning of Christmas beyond the overriding commercialism.

The notion behind a perfect Christmas is akin to film or Santa Clause. While you acknowledge their sharp deviation from reality, you still like to believe they can be true after all.

Every year, I watch my half a dozen favorite Christmas flicks with a mug of hot chocolate and an unguarded, child-like heart.

The Grinch’s heart grows three sizes larger when he discovers that there’s more to Christmas than presents and gifts. The affection and kindness of Whoville’s residents stalled the Grinch’s plans to steal the spirit of Christmas.

I am yet to experience such warmth in real life, being stranded thousands of miles away from those who make Christmas what it represents to me. For now, I have the movies, and I’m mighty grateful for that. Merry Christmas!

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