Our family’s favorite holiday movie is the 2018 version of Dr. Suess’ The Grinch. This animated film, more than any other we have watched, speaks to reason we celebrate this season. Unlike other versions of the story, the writers offer a more complex look at the trials of Donna Who as a struggling single mom raising three young children, the loneliness of the Grinch rooted in his complicated past, the persistent optimism of Mr. Bicklebaum, the selfless love and mischievous grit of Cindy-Lou. It reminds us that while we are each imperfect and our existence messy, we can make a difference in the lives of those around us. We are more capable than we believe.
Each family celebrates the season differently, weaving traditions and faith beliefs into something our own. For some of our families, today is the fourth day of Hanukkah. For others, Christmas Eve. And while celebrations may vary, the sense of hope, opportunity for new beginnings, and desire for restoration in our lives play a central role as we prepare to welcome the New Year.
On Saturday evening we survived the darkest day of the year. The Winter Solstice settled on our corner of the globe, the sun setting at 4:14 pm after only an 8 hr and 58 minute work day (part-time by boarding school standards). From the earliest hours, long shadows were cast across campus. But it is this darkness that allows us to celebrate the light. Without darkness, what would be light? Would it be merely the mundane, something we take for granted, rather than something to celebrate? Would we long the same way for its incremental warmth, a gradual gift that grows each day during the relentless grip of winter?
This quest for new light, a rebirth when we need it most, inspires our sprint toward the New Year. With resolutions in tow, we know full well the work required to change the direction of our lives is layered and complex. And that’s ok. Restoration does not always require a monumental shift, but rather an openness to a different mindset, a belief that we are worthy, that we are enough. We must believe we have the ability to positively impact the lives of others by focusing on that which we can give of ourselves. May your New Year be filled with love and kindness, those things The Grinch in all his wisdom knows we need most.