Monday, December 26, 2016


After writing about Ebenezer Scrooge’s conversion from isolated miser to compassionate friend in my last post, something occurred to me. When it comes to Christmas stories, so much of them revolve around the importance of socialization. Scrooge is isolated, friendless, and suspicious of his fellow man. But by the end of A Christmas Carol he’s going around saying "hello" to random people on the street. 

Could it be that the extrovert ideal-parties and music and colors and noise and movement and tons of conversation and laughter and food and basically everything in excess--has infiltrated even Christmas?

Now, I agree, the holidays should be spent with reconnecting with the people we take for granted the rest of the year, showing friends how much they mean to us, and enjoying quality time with loved ones. It’s a sort of illustration of the Nativity Story: God became flesh, He came down to earth, just to be with his estranged creation and restore a loving relationship with us. 

But there seems to be an ideal of a full house, of crowded tables and noisy malls. These ideals are vastly evident in movies. And as an introvert coming to grips with her introvertedness,* I now realize why these crowded, noisy gatherings always unsettled me. Introverts are usually stimulated easier than extroverts, which makes them more sensitive to over-stimulation. It’s draining on my energy to be in a room with tons of people all talking and moving and music piping in from the radio and lights blinking on and off. Come to think of it, I distinctly remember that during such cramped gatherings at my Grandma’s little house, I would hide in the back room under all the coats piled high on the bed. 

This gives me a new sympathy for one of my favorite Christmas characters: The Grinch.

In How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss immediately explains that the Grinch hated Christmas because “his heart was two sizes too small.” But is that really the only reason? We know the Grinch is a horrible person during the Christmas season. But maybe he was a perfectly happy Whoman being the rest of the year. We don’t know. All we do know is he hated Christmas, and that he lived just north of Who-ville, alone but for his dog, Max.**

The Grinch doesn’t seem to be mad he’s isolated from them in his cave. He’s not the evil fairy that holds a grudge for not being invited to the princess’ christening and therefore gifts her with a curse.  No, the reason he is intent on stopping Christmas is:

“…All the Who girls and boys
Would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys!
And then!  Oh the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That’s the one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!”

And then,

“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing. 
They’d stand hand-in-hand.*** And the Whos would start singing!
            They’d sing! And they’d sing!
            AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!”

From the standpoint of a fellow introvert, it sounds to me that the Grinch had a major over-stimulation issue he needed to address. And as pretty much everyone knows, he addresses it in completely the wrong way. Other introverts take note: Burglary solves nothing. 

Taking a breather under the coats in a guest room, however, may just do the trick.

*I know this should probably by "introversion" but that seems almost like a condition, possibly due to its rhyming with "perversion." 

** For someone who hates the Whos, the Grinch having a dog is a huge tip-off that he could be an introvert.  I too often feel a deeper friendship with furry people than the members of my own species.

***My own reaction: Ack! Physical contact! No! Your hands are clammy! Did you wash those greasy mitts after eating the Roast Beast?!

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