At our house, we think of magazines as a special treat. As a stocking stuffer they are hard to beat! Magazines answer three of the four cardinal aims of gift-giving: something they want; something they need; something to wear; something to read. Every life activity seems to have its own glossy publication exploring the whys, hows and whens - all in easy to digest packages. My Mum’s favourite magazine was Redbook and, in 1957, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas was published in it.
It was an instant hit with her and the family. Not since ‘Twas the Night before Christmas came into the house had we asked for the same story so often. By the following Christmas, we just about had it memorized, and that gave her an idea. The call had gone out from the Sunday school ladies, seeking something fresh for the Christmas social. As always, the junior choir would sing “Away in a Manger,” there would probably be a nativity scene acted out, the congregation would sing “Joy to the World” and Santa would give us candy canes. Mum’s idea was that I would read The Grinch.
I would read How the Grinch Stole Christmas to any of my brothers and sisters who would listen—I liked the mouthfuls of words and adored the pictures (which looked like something I might have drawn myself.) Reading in front of a crowd of grownups (people would be falling out the windows) was a different undertaking altogether. I remember feeling somewhat ill thinking about it.
Mum persisted. We practiced reading every day. She made a new dress for me. I made every effort to ignore the breathless feeling that swept over me every time I thought of the crowd that would be there. I concentrated on the wonderful words and the pretty dress. Panic didn’t set in until it came time in the program for The Grinch.
The church hall was stuffed and stuffy. Some of the men had managed to pry open a few windows and the open door let in a zephyr that languished in the middle of the room, but offered no relief in the stage area at the opposite end of the hall. As I walked into the oven of the performance area and turned to face the audience, that breathless sensation clamped over my rib cage. My ordeal was made more challenging by the fact that I would be reading, not from the dear, tattered Redbook, but from a clean copy, tied with ribbon to match my dress, typed by Mum’s kind friend . . . with no pictures. With no pictures the text went on for page . . . after page . . . I read every word, breathlessly and with all possible speed!
Grinch quite possibly wasn’t a word before 1957. “Grinched” has come to mean “griped or complained” about those things that excite so many people about the Christmas season. For me, being “grinched” is hearing someone else read The Grinch!