ARE you familiar with How the Grinch Stole Christmas! ? Well, if you've never read this book by Dr. Seuss, or seen the story animated on television, there's a character in it: little Cindy-Lou Who. Her family and friends cared much more about the true meaning of Christmas than anything else, even getting presents. Although Cindy-Lou was ''not more than two,'' she sang for joy, despite the fact that someone had stolen everyone's gifts in the attempt to stop Christmas from coming!
That ''someone'' was named the Grinch. And when the Grinch saw what had happened-that what he'd done hadn't stifled the joy of Christmas for any of the Whos in Who-ville, something significant began to dawn on him. He decided that perhaps Christmas doesn't ''come from a store.'' 1
Maybe you've even thought the same thing. Sharing the love of Christmas and the sentiment behind its message of peace and goodwill-this is the true meaning of Christmas. Goodwill and peace are certainly worth celebrating. Actually, they come from expressing God.
''Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind,'' said Christ Jesus (Luke 10:27). God actually is Love. Our true nature, as God's creation, is to express divine Love. Loving God results in feeling love and appreciation for others. It comes naturally.
Discovering for yourself your very own good nature, which comes from God, gets at the true meaning of Christmas. It is a celebration of the appearance of Christ, Truth. This can occur on any day of the year, of course, and not just on December 25.
The Grinch tried to stop Christmas from coming. In a story like this, it's easy to see how impossible that was. But sometimes you might find other people's behavior stealing your joy during the holidays. When someone is being selfish or just plain hateful, the joy of Christmas can feel as far away as the North Pole.
One Christmastime I remember watching a very angry man at a car rental counter. The car he'd reserved wasn't ready, and he was yelling about it and pounding his fists. Now, the music playing in that rental office was the song ''A Holly Jolly Christmas.'' I grinned to myself because it looked like the man was keeping time with the song as he beat his fist on the counter. I don't know how things turned out for him, but I hope, at least at some point, he felt the spiritual joy and love of Christmas.
Think about it: the influence of Christ is present in your thought. You feel it by loving God and man. This begins in a quiet, private way, just between you and God. Each of us is always with God. All the selfishness, condemnation, self-righteousness, or hatred in the world couldn't ever come between you and God.
In some ways, then, the celebration of true Christmas will always be a private thing, independent of other people's behavior. But as the Christ-idea appears-that is, as you realize that God loves us all and gives us good things-it is natural to share this realization freely. If you share with others and get nothing back, nothing about Christmas is taken away from you. God's love is always burning as brightly as ever for you. The birth of Jesus in a stable symbolizes this fact. It was a quiet event that gave the world the true idea of God. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in another Christmas book, Christ and Christmas, these words (p. 53):
Forever present, bounteous, free,
Christ comes in gloom;
And aye, with grace towards you
For health makes room.
True Christmas celebration is full of joy, because this holiday celebrates the bright light of Christly thinking and living. Yes, this Christmas season, we can all see together that this is true.
1 From How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. TM and copyright 1957 by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.