I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about Ebenezer Scrooge.

That’s partly because Christmas is coming up soon and, for at least the second year in a row, I’m having trouble getting psyched for it. There are a lot of navel-gazey reasons I can give for this, but mostly I need to get over it. Because there’s really nothing lamer than being annoyed because other people are enthusiastic about something, and grouching about people who enjoy a season of giving and togetherness is the ultimate lame.

Now, I’m aware there are good reasons, religion-based and otherwise, to be annoyed about the omnipresence of Christmas in American culture. I’m just saying, I’m not motivated by any of them. When I find myself (mentally, for the most part) going, “Errgh, stop talking about Christmas,” all I’m really doing is being a Grinch.

But I’m not — and I do think this is a meaningful distinction — being a Scrooge. Scrooge isn’t a villain because he says “Bah, humbug” to Christmas. He’s a villain because he, as a deliberate philosophical choice, refuses to display any empathy, compassion, or charity toward his fellow human beings, 365 days a year. Furthermore, he exercises these decisions from a position of power. He’s an employer and an influential “man of business” who could use his resources for good. That’s why his reformation at the end of A Christmas Carol (spoiler alert?) matters to anyone besides himself.

In contrast, the Grinch spends most of the time up in his cave, grinching at his dog. And for all we know, he might be a perfectly pleasant human being (or, umm, Telly monster?) eleven months out of the year. Granted, it’s not that likely but you never know. Maybe he just doesn’t like the Whos’ taste in music.

And unlike Scrooge, the Grinch isn’t hurting anybody but himself. (Granted, his moral position is compromised once he decides to rob everybody in Whoville; but in order to hate Christmas that much, he must have spent a lot of years up there simmmering. Besides, any plan that can be both inspired and undermined by high-pitched singing couldn’t have been that serious in the first place).

So anyway, I’m working on not being a Grinch, but I definitely don’t want to be a Scrooge.

Tomorrow, maybe, I’ll talk about Scrooge vs. Mr. Potter. There are many more subtleties in the ranks of Christmas-hating villains than I realized.

Who’s YOUR favorite Christmas-hating villain?

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