In search of the Grinch—December 20, 2013
If you’re searching for the holiday spirit, you should probably browse our nonfiction stacks. Kwanzaa is Section 394.26. Thanksgiving is 394.2649. And Christmas clocks in at a tidy 394.2663. Most holidays (and their spirits) aren’t too hard to find, but if you’re having problems, please ask the library for help. That’s what we’re here for! (Holiday-location services provided, free of charge!) After all, isn’t that what reading is? One big holiday?
Okay, that last might be a bit too chirpy for some of you.
On a slightly less chirpy note, there’s a silver lining to the whole “I’m lost and searching for a holiday” cloud: if you’re actively searching for the holidays, then you’re probably not a Grinch. (Which ignores the fact that, since you don’t know where the holidays are, you’re awfully close to becoming one.) Anyway, we all know the type. Grinches are grumpy, green, beer-bellied and pantless…well no. Not exactly. But Grinches do come in many guises.
For some, the Grinch might be your grumbly “Must-we-visit-your-mother’s-house” spouse. For others, he might be your great aunt Mavis who lives in the attic with twenty hungry cats and a very nervous Chihuahua. For yet others, the Grinch – your beloved Grinch – just so happens to be a character in a book or on TV (like Maxine from the Hallmark cards or Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street). Grinches can vary, but what all of these delightful individuals have in common is a fierce aversion to joy.
That said, maybe you have a real fondness for the type. Or perhaps you are the type. In that case, rather than force you to search out the holidays in our stacks, we have a second option available: we can recommend books and movies that feature characters guaranteed to possess real bah-humbug dispositions.
Perhaps the most obvious of Grinches is Dr. Seuss’s Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas; an almost equally famous Grinch is Charles Dickens’ miserly Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life fulfills the role quite nicely, while Jack Campbell from The Family Man vies for mention. Elf’s Walter Hobbs is appropriately horrible, while Frank Shirley from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation steals the cake. While we’re at it, don’t forget Walter Matthau, whose grumpery ranges all the way from his days in Dennis the Menace to his co-starring role with Jack Nicholson in Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. Nicholson, of course, is prime grouch material (special kudos for his role in As Good as It Gets).
Finally, please remember Grumpy Cat. The scowling, raccoon-eyed feline would be most displeased if she were forgotten. But don’t worry! We have a book about her too.
Grinches can be cantankerous, with priorities that are slightly off-track, but the great thing about these shifty characters is that they’re infinitely redeemable. They might not enjoy peace on earth and goodwill toward men, but in the end they’ll come around. They’ll make reparation. That’s why Grinch characters are so great – and why they are so nicely appropriate for the holiday season. Grinches possess an immeasurable, if grumpy, capacity for good; in the long run, they’re all heart.