Christmas Saves Us

The entire genre of Christmas stories with the formula “Protagonist Saves Christmas” is doing us a disservice this pandemic year by teaching that the holiday is “saved” by massive efforts to restore the status quo: Santa-Delivers-Presents and accompanying traditions. These stories say that Christmas can’t be Christmas without a specific set of events and trappings, that it will be ruined if there is any disruption to those events and trappings. This primes people to panic and feel huge loss if they can’t celebrate in the ways they are accustomed to.

This year, more than ever, we need the story of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where all the trappings are stripped away and Christmas saves the Grinch. This “Christmas Saves Protagonist” formulation is far more in tune with the holiday. So much so that it is a frequent sub-plot of “saves Christmas” stories. Yes, the Grinch story does end with the restoration of the traditions and trappings, but it didn’t have to. Christmas would have been fine even if the sled had gone off Mount Crumpit. That was the point. That’s WHY it saved the Grinch.

Pandemic restrictions may steal away portions of your holiday traditions that you value greatly. I’m pretty sure the Whos found great joy in all those trimmings and trappings. Yet on the Christmas morning when the Whos woke and found bare walls, the Whos gathered with a space in the middle for Christmas. And they sang. And Christmas came.

All of our traditions, gatherings, decorations, etc are merely a frame for something larger than ourselves to arrive into. We can change the frame without harming the holiday. If Christmas is holy to you (as it is to me,) that holiness exists with or without the tinsel and trappings. Trust that no matter what form your holiday must take this year, the holiness will show up to fill the space you create.

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