Based on the Dr. Seuss classic, the 1996 animated Grinch short film is one of the longest running Christmas specials on television. And while it may have had the spotlight stolen in 2000 by the feature length Grinch film starring Jim Carrey, the animated classic still manages to draw viewers and keep our hearts two sizes too big.
The tale of the villainous plot dreamt up by the green Grinch who lives atop a mountain north of Who-ville and has a heart two sizes too small has become a Christmas tradition for many. After putting up with the over-the-top Christmas festivities in the Who-ville valley for 53 years, the Grinch turns his distaste into a Santa costume in an attempt to stop Christmas from coming. After suiting up, the Grinch loads a sleigh with sacks, dresses his dog, Max, as a reindeer and sets in motion his plan to steal all presents and any sign of Christmas spirit from Who-ville.
When the sleigh speeds into Who-ville, the Grinch gets to work bagging every present, tree, and “holly-Who-wreath.” He even takes the “roast beast,” the staple of the annual Who-ville Christmas feast. But when the Grinch is stuffing the tree up the chimney of one of the last houses, he is startled to see little Cindy Lou Who, the smallest of the Whos, looking up at him with big, confused eyes. When she asks the Grinch, who she believes is Santa, why he is taking the Christmas tree away, the Grinch quickly thinks and tells her that he is taking the tree back to the workshop to fix a broken light on it. After getting her a drink and sending her back to bed, the Grinch is pulled back up the mountainside towards home by Max, convinced that the Whos will wake up to find no Christmas in the morning.
While balancing his sleigh on the peak of a mountain, the Grinch strains to hear the cries of grief and sadness from Whos down in the valley. But instead of sadness, the Grinch is shocked to hear the Whos singing their normal, happy Christas song instead. He also fails to notice his sleigh sliding down the mountainside with Max and all of Who-ville’s presents in tow.
When he leaps to save the sleigh, the Grinch realizes that he cannot stop Christmas from coming, because it was more than gifts and decorations. As the Christmas spirit floods his ears, the Grinch’s heart grows “three sizes” and he has the strength to save the sleigh (the strength of “10 Grinches, plus two” to be exact). He rides the sleigh back down to Who-ville, giving all of the Christmas spirit back and even carving the roast beast at the Christmas feast.
In the days when Christmas seems more about the presents than the family gatherings, the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a simple reminder that the Christmas spirit can be felt without ribbons, tags, boxes or bags.