The Grinch of Marshall Road

“The Grinch of Marshall Road,” Ensign, Dec. 1992, 44

The Grinch of Marshall Road

I can’t remember when or why it was that during my childhood I developed a negative, cynical attitude toward Christmas. All I know is that each year it seemed to get worse.

Family and friends referred to me as the “Grinch of Marshall Road.” I complained about singing the same old Christmas carols every year and repeating the same family traditions. I grumbled as we baked and frosted Christmas cookies. I balked when participating in Christmas decorating. It all seemed so pointless to me, and much more work than it was worth.

Then one December day when I was about fourteen years old, all that changed. I had grudgingly agreed to do some shopping for Mother. I trudged along the sidewalk, shivering in the cold and wishing I were somewhere else.

The fancy department store windows only reinforced my negative attitude. Each window was filled with gaudy and glitzy Christmas displays, making it clear that Christmas was a business person’s dream. On every street corner was a Santa, ringing a bell and collecting money for the needy. Christmas music blared endlessly over loudspeakers.

Then a different window display caught my eye. Instead of displaying the usual Santa, elves, reindeer, and gifts, this window had a simple manger scene. I drew closer and realized that the figures were not mannequins but live people.

Mary was a young girl, maybe twelve or thirteen years old. Joseph was a bit older, perhaps fifteen. Children dressed as shepherds and Wise Men completed the scene.

I stood there for a long time, heedless of the cold and snow, drinking in the story of Jesus’ birth in a Bethlehem stable. I watched the girl cradle a doll tenderly in her arms, then carefully lay her precious child in a manger filled with hay. The boy Joseph looked on. Humble shepherds knelt in worship.

Suddenly I was filled with a feeling I had never known before. A warm glow went from the top of my head down to the tip of my toes. Tears ran down my cheeks, and I was infused with a peace and joy so gentle and yet so deep that I no longer felt a part of this world. For the first time in my life, I felt the power of what Christmas and the birth of Jesus were really all about.