What the Whos down in Whoville can teach us about forgiveness

In my house, one of our holiday traditions is curling up on the couch wrapped in blankets watching Christmas movies. Last night “The Grinch that Stole Christmas” was on our playlist.

As the movie finished, my twelve year old son asked “Why didn’t the Grinch go to jail? Why did the Whos let him into their celebration after all he had done to them?”

As we continued to cuddle and discuss the Dr. Seuss movie, we came to the answer: forgiveness.

The Grinch is not a nice guy. He maliciously plans and carries out the theft of all of the Who belongings. More so, he did it with the intention of emotionally hurting the Whos by taking away their Christmas joy. 

The Whos don’t hold this against the Grinch. In fact, when the Grinch brings back all of their belongings (after having a change of heart) he is welcomed into the village with open arms and invited to celebrate Christmas day with them.

What an amazing capacity for forgiveness.

They didn’t need time to reflect, they didn’t question that the Grinch had maliciously acted against them, they didn’t hold anything against the Grinch (his intentions or his actions), they simply asked him to join their day. They showed him love and compassion. They forgave.

What if we all took a piece of the Whos capacity for forgiveness and took a step toward forgiveness in our own lives?

How would we experience holidays, family gatherings, friendships, workplace interactions and life in general differently if we held onto less pain and forgave others for the hurts we experienced?


“Forgive all who have offended you, not for them, but for yourself.” Harriet Nelson

Forgiving does not mean forgetting. Forgiving means making a conscious effort to move forward in your life. The things that have happened in your past remain in your past and will always be there. In many ways they add and contribute to the person you are today. It’s likely that the challenging experiences you’ve had helped you develop some pretty amazing qualities like strength and courage.

If you’re filed with anger and hurt there is no room for positive feelings. Letting go of past hurts allows a space that can be filled with joy, happiness, peace, and contentment.


Are there things you can forgive in your life?


  • Take a few moments to reflect upon things that caused you pain that you’re holding on to.
  • Be mindful of your experience, recognizing the differences between your thoughts, feelings, and physical reactions.


  • How is holding onto this hurt helping you in your life?
  • What would you gain by letting go and forgiving?
  • How would your life be different if you didn’t have this pain or hurt anymore?

Take action:

  • Try saying out loud “I forgive ….”
  • Try writing a letter of forgiveness (this letter does not need to be sent, the purpose and benefit is gained by the act of writing and in you forgiving).
  • Try a LovingKindness Meditation.

 For the Whos, forgiving the Grinch allowed them to experience the happiness and joy of Christmas Day without resentment and pain. They could have let the experience ruin their day, they could have chosen to be angry and resentful even though they got their belongings back, but they didn’t.

And the people who benefited most from the act of forgiveness were the Whos.

Forgiving others in your life will allow you to fully live in the moment, be open to experience amazing things, will allow you to let go of the past and worry less about the future.  I wish you the best this Christmas!


Adriana Joyner, LMFT is a Sacramento Area therapist who provides counseling to people healing from trauma and abuse, and gender support for those within the LGBTQIA community. Her office is located in Gold River, CA located off Highway 50 at Sunrise Blvd.  For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (916) 547-3997 or email adrianajoynermft@gmail.com.