A Real Life Grinch Lesson

Welcome, welcome dahoo damus
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp.   Dr. Seuss 1966

This was starting off to be a rough holiday season for me.  I have been dealing with some health issues that have caused me to suffer a great deal of bone and joint pain.

Do not fear my readers, I won’t bore you with medical details (after all, we all have our own problems) suffice it to say, I was not feeling particularly full of the holiday spirit.

You may have noticed that it has been quite a while since my last blog, which I apologize for but quite frankly, pain and a busy schedule made concentrating on writing too difficult.  By now, my Facebook friends must be wondering what has become of me.

Things started off very promising and I was looking forward to making this a wonderful season.  We planned our annual cookie swap/Christmas party (for this coming Sunday) and spent the days before Thanksgiving in New York City, getting a glimpse of the department store holiday windows.  Best of all, although brief, we got to spend some quality time with family that we hadn’t seen in a while.

Thanksgiving Day itself was spent in Orlando, where we had a true feast at the Gaylord Palms hotel and got to visit “The Holy Land Experience.”  The theme park was different than any others I have known but was beautiful and filled us with inspiration.

It was Thanksgiving night that my painful saga began.  I had been dealing with the problem on and off for two years now and this night, it flared up and quickly went from bad to worse.

When we arrived home, my doctor set up appointments for me to see a very good orthopedic surgeon as well as a neurologist (as I also have nerve damage issues).  For the most part, I tried my best to do work that HAD to be done and rest as much as possible.

Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the time we set aside to put up our Christmas tree and fill our home with holiday cheer, both inside and out.  That weekend was impossible for me.  I could not get out of bed.  I rested and hoped the next weekend would be better.  As it grew nearer and I found myself not improving, I became a little down in the dumps.

Now I pride myself on being a guy who bites the bullet and always wears a happy face. However in spite of myself, I found I was going to the Grinch side, feeling sorry for myself and not having any interest in preparing for Christmas.

Then it happened…  During a doctor visit I came across a young fellow who for some reason or another, found it necessary to share with me the fact that he no longer believes in God.  “I hope I didn’t offend you,” he added.  

“Not at all,” I replied adding, “even though I’m an ordained minister.”  I guess now it was I who found it necessary to share.

He then proceeded to tell me the logic behind his recent epiphany that lead to his doubts in a world creator.

It seems that while riding his bicycle, he took a rather bad spill and did some major damage to his arm.  Admittedly, he acknowledged that good fortune had guided his unprotected head to safety as it miraculously hit the grass and not the pavement like his arm.  “If it didn’t, I might have been killed or crippled for life!” he shared.  He complained that he had to have surgery, which was expected to last two hours but in reality took six.  He had no insurance but the surgeon thankfully did the procedure pro bono.   Furthermore, he was then set up with free medical coverage from the state that will cover his therapy and any future medical needs.  “Yes,” he continued, “that’s when I gave up on the idea of God.  What kind of God wouldn’t be there for me when I was in need?”

I smiled at him.  “It’s alright to feel abandoned every now and then,” I told him.  “We all do at times.  Even Jesus cried out on the cross, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’  He hung there suffering until he died… you got free surgery to fix your pain.  Now you have free medical coverage that most fathers would kill to get for their family.  It seems to me that someone was looking out for you.”

With that, three ladies sitting beside him held there right hand in the air and simultaneously yelled out a hearty “Amen!”

“I never looked at it that way,” he humbly responded.

“I’m sorry.  Seems you can take the minister out of the church but you can’t take the church out of the minister,” I ended with mock apology.

I pondered on that “chance meeting” several times over the next two days.  What I had said was true.  Whether or not you believe that Jesus was (and is) the messiah, the fact remains, the man did exist and he did die on a cross… willingly for us sinners.  His only crime was standing up to the temple leaders and preaching that it’s not the rules and regulations of the church that matter most, but how you live your life and treat each other.  He wanted us to be like God, the very God that lives inside all of us… and love one another.

I took a look at myself.  True, I do hurt as I wobble around clutching my cane… but I can still walk.  I have good doctors looking out for me and family and friends that love me… truly love me.  I live in a very comfortable little home and have never known hunger.  Why?  Why do I have so much good fortune when millions around the world suffer?  I decided that it was not my place to wonder why.  I should however be grateful and stop my moping around.  And like Dr. Seuss’ Grinch I realized, Christmas was coming anyway. 

With or without me, Christmas with all its beauty and splendor was going to happen.  So it was my heart that “grew three sizes that day.”

I recalled how my mother had suffered for close to thirty-five years with one horrific illness after another.  I lost count of the number of times medical experts told us that “this was it.”  She beat everything from kidney failure to breast cancer and never… never once did she miss putting up her Christmas tree and décor.  My entire life, mom had explained to me that it was not for fun or for Santa or for ourselves that we deck our homes with evergreen, countless lights and festive music.  We do this to honor Jesus Christ, who gave the ultimate sacrifice because he loved us so.  

So Saturday I got my sorry butt out of bed and I too “found the strength of “ten Grinches… plus two” and I am happy to report (although it required hiring someone to help me) our home is ablaze with Christmas cheer.

Christmas day will always be, just so long as we have we.

 Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand in hand…

May the peace and love of Jesus Christ fill your heart this holiday season.  I hope that you too find the strength and faith to fight any Grinch that my present itself to you as you prepare for your holiday, whatever it may be.

Until next time,



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8 responses to “A Real Life Grinch Lesson

  1. Virginia K Calvert

    Very Inspiring, Don. I think many of us have felt like you did. I.too, think of my mom, her strength ,and her great faith during difficult times. I miss her terribly but feel her presence each day as my life continues to unfold. I feel blessed to be able to call on her to guide me and help me with life’s daily challenges. I know she would want me to be joyful and continue to ask for God’s blessings for myself, family ,and friends. Happy Birthday Mom on December 8th.

    • You’re right Virgina, they are ALWAYS right there. You can feel them still hard at work being our life coaches. It makes me feel good to know she is looking out for me and the lessons I learned from her are never ending.

  2. Patsy Stone

    Love this! It was the perfect message for me today – thanks xoxo

  3. Laurie

    Don, I know why I love you every time I read your blog! (Well, I really knew it a long time ago, but well, that sounded good didnt it?) This blog for sure helped my grinchish heart! For stories too long and boring to go into, I too admit I was not feeling the Christmas season this year. I am struggling with alot, but, with all things considered, I am blessed. So, with all that in mind, I will put my green grinch make up away and get out my reddist clothing and adorn my shirts and jackets with christmas pins. I WILL go out and buy a tree and put up some lights on my sorry apartment windows. Why? because, its Jesus’s birthday, and, because you Don, are my inspiration! :)Love you!
    Your Cuz! Laurie XO’

    • My dear cousin… I am so glad that I was able to lift your spirits. I am sorry that you’re troubled but remember, life keeps changing. What troubles you today will one day merely be a story about your past. Keep the faith. You’re loved by so many who really care and pray for your happiness. I do every night. For me, you will forever be the beautiful teenaged girl who made the port wine cheddar cheese ball (rolled in chopped nuts) because my family was coming to visit. You prob don’t even remember that yet it’s a Christmas memory I cherrish. You and your family have touched my heart in so many ways that there are no words to express my love. Be happy cousin… you deserve that! XO

  4. Maureen Rothwell

    Don, I love you so much, and am so sorry to hear you are suffering. Why didn’t you call me and tell me. I am home so much and can help you any time you need it! I totally agree with what you said. I too have had so much pain and misery in my life, but have also experienced so much love and joy too. But whenever I am depressed I try to count my blessings. So many people are suffering more than we can ever understand (thankfully), I have clients that after I read for them and see what they are gong through my heart breaks. But, I try to understand and give them hope and some coping skills. I believe in prayer, and I have my own particular way of praying. But, I always ask God to give me one thing. Strength. I feel I do not have the right to ask God to erase my problems (that is my job), but just give me and the people I care about the strength to deal with whatever comes our way! Strength is one of the gifts our family has! That and a great sense of humor!!!
    BTW, I hope you are making some razzle berry dressing this Christmas! 🙂

    • Well that about sums it up dear sister. So true… I too ask for strength. I also ask him to help me find my path. I know that I survived so much because he has a plan for me. Maybe it’s “Unforgettable.” Could it be that simple? Could it be that its success could offer me the opportunity to help others? Who knows?
      Thank you for your concern, but your brother copes and does pretty well. You just take care of yourself. I hear there is some good news to discuss!
      As far as razzleberry dressing goes, remember…
      We’ll have the lords bright blessing, knowing we’re toghether. Knowing we’re together heart and hand. We’ll have the whitest Christmas. The lighest, brightest Christmas. A Christmas far more glorious than grand! XO

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