We love the Grinch!
Up front, we are a deeply committed Christian family. We have no qualms about saying we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. Period.
That said, the Grinch from Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas'' is a fun and special part of our Christmas celebration.
Mary Margaret Pecht
It began long ago. Early in our 57-year marriage, husband Richard used to chuckle about me and the Grinch. One Christmas, he bought me a "How the Grinch Stole Christmas'' book, as a joke. I loved it.
Our real love affair with the Grinch also started many years ago: I'm not sure of the date, but it was when the animated version of the Dr. Seuss story was televised for the first time, at least 40 years ago, I think.
It was to be televised on a Sunday evening, which just happened to be Richard's mother's family's Christmas party.
I would have been sunk, but somehow I persuaded the family we should watch the Grinch, right in the middle of our celebration. I'm sure I talked some kids into wanting to watch it, too.
So there we were, four generations of the family gathered in his grandparents' modest living room. There were adults and teens squeezed onto every bit of seating available. Children were on laps or on the floor, and some older folks were on the floor, too. Gathered in front of MomMom and PopPop's 17-inch black-and-white TV. And we watched the Grinch together.
It was the only time the whole kit-and-kaboodle of us watched the special together, but it began our own personal family Christmas tradition with the Grinch - Richard, our daughter Tamra, and me.
I don't even know why we like the Grinch. He's an awful character - you know, his heart is full of unwashed socks, he steals candy canes from little Who-girls in Whoville, he steals even the crumbs too small for a mouse. He treats his dog, Max, even worse than a dog, tying sawed-off deer horns onto his head for antlers and making him draw an impossibly-loaded sleigh. He's downright mean. Truth to tell, we don't really like him - but we love him.
For many years, a stuffed Grinch has reposed in his own overstuffed chair under our Christmas tree (Oh, yes, Richard did buy me a stuffed Grinch, too!).
We own a DVD of the Dr. Seuss special, but we still watch it every time it's on TV; if it's on five times and we don't have another commitment, we watch it five times. It's more fun to watch it with Tamra (who is now 54), because she will join me in singing the songs, or reciting the narrative or the Grinch's dastardly dialogue right along with him. Our son-in-law, who did not grow up with the love-the-Grinch tradition, just shakes his head and picks up a book. Not really sure how the now-grown grandchildren feel about the old rascal; probably somewhere in between.
I don't care much for Ron Howard's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas'' feature-length movie. We have liked Ron since he was Opie on the Andy Griffith Show, and he does a great job with costumes, makeup, etc., but it's just not the same as the gritty Boris Karloff voice and fat, green behind of the animated Grinch.
We've already watched the Grinch twice this year, and we will again, if given the opportunity. I passed up my Sunday afternoon nap to watch the Grinch. I didn't snack during the show because I can't snack and sing Grinchy things at the same time - that's considered multi-tasking, and I'm too old to multi-task.
The Grinch is really nasty, but as already admitted, we love him. I'm not sure why. Maybe because he turns out OK, after he realizes Christmas isn't really all the folderol and his heart grows three sizes in one day.
Maybe it just has something to do with tradition.
And maybe it's because every time we watch, we remember a Sunday evening long ago and a warm, family gathering around MomMom and PopPop's 17-inch black-and-white TV set.
Mary Margaret Pecht is a Ferguson Valley resident who has written for The Sentinel in one capacity or another for more than 50 years.