Our View: Confounding our inner Grinch

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As the skies turn gray and the chill of winter settles in for the long haul, we're reminded why the bright lights and relentless songs of the holiday season matter.

It's easy to lose track of one's holiday spirit in times like this, with so much chaos and uncertainty around us.

Sure, we do our best to take care of our own families and neighbors, because that's what we always do. But it's easy to feel powerless when a small number of shamelessly greedy people are doing their Grinchy best to impoverish, disenfranchise and silence the overwhelming majority of the population. Whether it's restricting the flow of information on the internet, willfully ignoring the unfolding environmental crisis around us, or passing a Robin Hood in reverse tax bill that steals from the poor and gives to the rich, people in power are doing their best to do their worst. The Grinch would be mighty proud of Paul Ryan.

That doesn't exactly define holiday cheer. And try as we might, the holiday spirit just doesn't kick in the way it did when we were kids, because against this backdrop of regrettable news, the holiday season has become so thoroughly commercialized. The holiday decorations go up before Halloween. Black Friday sales start before the Thanksgiving turkey grows cold. We feel the pressure to have or host a "perfect" holiday, and it can whittle away our sanity faster than the cat can knock over the Christmas tree.

In such times, there's a real temptation to follow the lead of these Washingtonian Grinches and bid a hasty retreat up Mount Crumpit — not ignobly or greedily like them, with sacks of stolen treasure, but in search of self-imposed isolation from a world that seems to have gone mad. Since there's seemingly nothing we can do about the selfish awfulness to come, why not lock ourselves behind the screens of our smartphones or see what's new on Netflix this month?

But as every devotee of Dr. Seuss knows, the Grinch was lured back down the mountain, his heart growing three sizes, by the singing Whos of Whoville. He abandoned the isolation of Mount Crumpit, heart swelling, for the love and joy he heard in the valley below — even though he was prepared to revel in their despair.

Why were they singing? Because they still had the one thing the Grinch could not take from them — each other. Because they knew all along that the real meaning of the holiday didn't come from a store.

So we should follow suit and follow the sound of singing to a better place. Because small miracles are possible, and from them, big miracles grow.

Democrats are not supposed to win Alabama. Yet Senator-elect Doug Jones is headed to Washington. Why? Because ordinary people did extraordinary things to make sure Roy Moore never reached the Senate, by horse or any other mode of transport.

Hollywood movie studio mogul Harvey Weinstein was accustomed to his selfish, slimy and predatory behavior being obliged, and went out of his way to hurt those who wouldn't play along with his schemes. But he's out of a job, and so are other business owners and media mega-personalities who treated women as second-class citizens and far worse. Why? Because ordinary women showed extraordinary bravery.

And that brings us back to the holiday, and why we should sing out like the Whos of Whoville — and abandon our own lonely Mount Crumpit outposts and join in.

We've seen an entire town come out to watch friends and neighbors drive brightly decorated tractors down Main Street on a perfectly crisp December night.

We've heard the people of our towns singing carols at Factory Point Town Green as Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived by fire truck to chat with boys and girls.

We've marveled as singing and dancing students from Burr and Burton Academy went all-out to entertain audiences on a magical train ride aboard the Elf Express.

And we've been moved by numerous examples of holiday generosity large and small throughout the towns we call home.

Small miracles, all. But history shows us a critical mass of small miracles leads to a grander and even more satisfying miracle — such as people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs coming together to create a community that is stronger together and capable of great things.

That's true for one of Dr. Seuss' most enduring characters, for a small town in the Green Mountains of Vermont, and for a nation, too.

After all, the story at the heart of this holiday begins with a seemingly unremarkable and mundane little miracle: A baby, born in a stable to a poor couple who had nowhere else to go, and a small crowd of onlookers who recognized the great value in the seemingly ordinary.

So wherever and however you celebrate these holidays, or even if you don't celebrate them at all, sing and sing loud in celebration of those little miracles, near and far.

It's the best way to hold our own inner Grinches at bay — and maybe confound the big, bad Grinches, too.

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