Many stories – particularly those aimed largely at children – are meant to have morals. They have a neat little takeaway, a clean message that they convey. For instance, the moral of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is don’t break into anyone’s house, no matter how just-right the porridge is because the occupants could always be bears.
Christmas stories, saccharine and twee as they often are, typically have rather straightforward morals. Giving is good. Kindness is good. Believing wholeheartedly in flying anthropomorphic creatures is good. Waiting until the last minute and buying a really shabby, small Christmas tree is okay, as long as you all sing about it afterward.
Yet, sometimes, these Christmas stories have a few – possibly unintentional – morals or implications that are a bit more questionable.
❄ How the Grinch Stole Christmas ❄
While the holiday classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” presents itself as a simple story of a Christmas curmudgeon discovering the true spirit of the season, there are undeniably darker undertones. Rather than merely teaching children to be accepting of others as they celebrate the holiday, there is also the troubling suggestion that loud neighbors are always in the right.
After all, that is the Grinch’s chief complaint.
He is an unhappy green beast cursed to forever listen to a raging party he hasn’t been invited to. Whatever your opinion of noise levels for private residences might be, there’s no question that the Whos down in Whoville have simply gone too far. Their incessant revelry, wherein they ceaselessly play needlessly noisy instruments like the zoo-zither-carzay, can be heard audibly from a nearby mountaintop.
It’s true that the Grinch perhaps went too far in posing as Santa Claus and breaking into their homes and stealing their things and lying through his teeth to a teary-eyed Cindy Lou Who, but still, he’s not totally in the wrong. So he overreacted to the noise problem. Can he be blamed that he was born with a too-small heart or that his shoddy cobbler ensured that his shoes were always too tight?
Even when he’s been driven to near-madness from the constant auditory assault of the Whos and tries to break their spirits just to have a moment of quiet, their response is to keep making more noise!
Sure, now it’s just singing, but why would this possibly bring joy to the Grinch’s heart? At the risk of sounding like a Grinch myself, I’ll say that if I were in his situation and the Whos continued to sing, I would view that as a taunt. They are so determined to keep trolling this unfortunate mountain hermit that they continue to torment him with song after he has gone beyond the breaking point.
“The Grinch” purports to teach children about finding happiness outside of material goods, but really it informs them of how it is always best to just cave in to the loudest people; they’ll win anyway.
❄ The Polar Express ❄
On the surface, “The Polar Express” is an innocent story about childhood magic and belief. It is the story of a boy and his sister who are picked up by a conductor to board a train for the North Pole in the middle of Christmas night. The two visit the wonders of Santa’s residence and even meet the jolly old fellow himself and have an altogether wonderful time.
All the while, the main boy in the story is only greatly rewarded and suffers no less-than-ideal consequences at all after he gets on a train in the middle of the night with a curious stranger.
Trains that come straight to your house are not to be trusted, kids.
❄ Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ❄
The story of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” may seem to be quite inspiring.
It’s the story of how Rudolph, a strange mutant creature who has somehow developed a specific kind of proboscis-localized bioluminescence, is bullied and ostracized by a group of normative reindeer.
This story does end with Rudolph’s becoming accepted by those who bullied him, but this seems like he’s being a little too easily swayed back into their camp. When did they apologize for discluding him from all their reindeer games? Those other reindeer only liked him when he started to become useful.
❄ Frosty the Snowman ❄
“Frosty the Snowman” is all about the imagination and determination. A few kids get a magical hat from a magician and bestow life upon an inanimate pile of snow. When the magician tries to get his hat back, the children run away merrily and attempt to transport this newly dubbed “Frosty” to the safer, northern climes.
This is a prime case of children not listening to their authority figure while it really is in their best interest to do so. The magician needs that hat for a very specific reason –a hat with the power to grant life to any inanimate object is one dangerous hat.
If “Transformers” taught us anything, it’s that inanimate objects are just waiting to turn evil. They have that kind of kill-all-humans potential. Who’s to say the next toaster the hat should befall doesn’t turn into some psychopathic killing machine? Who’s to say Frosty is not overcome by inhuman madness already?
Joe Zimmermann is a junior English and journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.