Dr. Seuss blew it. Missed an opportunity. That’s hard to swallow, I know. He is, after all, one of the most beloved authors in all of children’s literature. Still, there was a moment. He could have capitalized on his instantly recognizable and enduring creation, the Grinch. Instead, Seuss ended his reign of nastiness in one book, with an explosive and literal change of heart.
After that, the Grinch was finished. Mean, greenish (mottled?) thug morphs into Mr. Nice Guy. Game over.
Unless. There’s a sequel. Let’s call it something like “The Grinch Returns.” No. Better: “The Grinch Reverts.” In this book, the Grinch, as many of us do, suffers a post-holiday funk. His Christmas spirit, so bright it powered all of Whoville, has evaporated. Though he has become the model Who-sier, generous and kind, he finds himself alone, without a hint of a love interest, and Valentine’s Day only twenty-four-hours away. Feeling duped, his bitterness returns, like a tsunami. He vows to take down the celebration that mocks his loneliness. The night before, dressed as cupid, he sneaks around and makes a clean sweep of florists, chocolatiers, and Hallmarks. Not finished, he slithers into homes, snatching anything in the shape of a heart. But then, at his last stop, he runs into–you guessed it–little Cindy Lou Who.
Well, not quite. This time, Cindy Lou is in bed, fast asleep. But she has left on the table, amongst dozens of other hand-made Valentines, one for the Grinch himself. It is the biggest, gaudiest, and garishly red of all. In that moment, it dawns upon the Grinch that Valentine’s Day was not intended as a cruel reminder of what he does not have. It is an undying expression of what is given, the unrelenting beat of the heart through the ages. As it had on Christmas, the Grinch’s own heart nearly bursts with largess and gratitude. But this time, in the sequel, on a day that honors love in all of its guises, there’s no going back.