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Scrooge, the Grinch – and Spanos?

Joe Naiman

Special to the Village News

The Christian station on my car radio began playing Christmas songs on Thanksgiving Day. The explanation was essentially that they celebrate the birth of the Savior all year long and that includes Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve.

With that in mind, certain apparently secular Christmas literature might not be so secular. Although the birth of Jesus and his redemption of our sins took place at different times of the year, Christmas and Easter are interdependent upon each other.

Without the birth of Jesus, he couldn’t have died to redeem our sins and then spent a day and a half in Hell to spring those who previously didn’t have that gift of eternal salvation. Without the blood of Christ redeeming our sins, the birth of Jesus would have been insignificant. Jesus is year-round, and tributes to him may emphasize seasonal activity but should reflect his influence for the entire year.

Some apparently secular Christmas stories about the joy of Christmas actually reflect redemption. Ebenezer Scrooge had no love for Christmas or Christian charity until Marley’s ghost (that’s Jacob Marley rather than Bob Marley in case anyone thinks they’re getting ganja for Christmas) informs Mr. Scrooge that he will be receiving three visitors. Whether the past, present, and future represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can be the subject of a religious talk show, but in any case, Scrooge ends up enthusiastic about both the holiday and the concept of Christmas.

In “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the Grinch loathes the celebration of Christmas and tries to prevent that celebration by stealing presents, decorations, and other material items associated with Christmas. He learns that Christmas isn’t about presents or other material items and, after the Grinch returns the material items, he is invited to partake in the Christmas celebration. Not only does that emphasize that Christmas isn’t about material matters, but it epitomizes repentance and forgiveness.

Repentance, forgiveness, and unconditional love are part of the Christian religion made possible by the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas was the vehicle for these attributes when Scrooge and the Grinch accepted the concept of Christmas, but those apply year-round.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys also utilize the vehicle of Christmas while noting the year-round concept of Christianity. Jesus was perfect, as was Mary in some denominations, but nobody else is or ever was.

The love of the imperfect, such as a reindeer with an illuminated nose and toys which didn’t meet conceptual appearance or function requirements, also applies to every person who lacks what Jesus had. I have compared Santa to Jesus in a previous commentary, but Santa’s utilization of Rudolph and the misfit toys is what God does throughout the year.

Santa was able to find homes for the misfit toys, knowing that some children would want such toys which didn’t meet other people’s standards. It is perhaps appropriate that I was at a Christmas party which included a presentation of Rudolph and the misfit toys exactly one Sunday after I was having lunch with a sportscaster who made the comment that he didn’t realize what the 49ers football team saw in a certain player.

I responded that since the Spanos family has owned the Chargers football team, the Chargers emphasize athleticism and don’t recognize the intangibles of the likes of Darren Sproles and Igor Olshansky (my godson’s cousin Katie dated Wes Welker when they were in middle school, so I omitted him to prevent potential personal bias while addressing the Chargers’ blunders). The sportscaster concurred with my assessment about the necessity of intangibles and the flaw of stressing physical traits only.

As a San Diego County resident since 1966, I see a resemblance between Spanos and Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch. If Scrooge and the Grinch can eventually grasp the concept of Christmas, so can Spanos. It might take a December incident for Spanos to do so, but the change will be year-round.

The lessons we learn from secular literature based on Christmas are lessons we can apply to the actual meaning of Christmas throughout the year.


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