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What I Learned from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”

December 3, 2021
by Dr. Sanjukta Mohanta, B.Sc., DDS


Do you remember the classic animated movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss? It’s my favourite Christmas movie. You probably know the premise: an evil monster – The Grinch – steals all the Christmas presents hoping he can ruin Christmas. But then he sees that Christmas isn’t gone, that surprisingly, Christmas actually goes on. He realizes that Christmas doesn’t come from a store, that Christmas means something a whole lot more.

Well, recently I lived this concept.

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I was volunteering for Homeless Connect Toronto at an event providing several goods and services to people living with homelessness, when I experienced the true meaning of giving. I was there to help out and to also see how dental care can be provided at future events. The guests received free eye care, foot care, legal services, tax advice and help managing their finances. They also had access to free food, a warm lunch and items they could take such as blankets, jackets, clothes and shoes. My role was to do a survey with them at the end and give them a new backpack full of essential items.

One of the questions I asked was, “What did you like most about this event? Even though their stomachs and bags were full and they were about to receive even more tangible items, almost everyone said the same thing: “I like the way I was treated.”

One of the guests said the best part was the people. Another very grateful woman remarked, “Why are you being so nice to me?” She started crying – and so did I. Another guest said, “You are not doing this to make yourself feel good, you are doing this to make me feel good.”

Like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day.

It wasn’t the presents that mattered most, it was our presence.

I naively thought that people who have very little, would appreciate receiving physical gifts above all else. I thought that the most important thing we were doing for them was giving them products and items, free of cost. I thought that they didn’t even notice us. I thought wrong.

In the movie, the people of Whoville celebrate Christmas holding hands and singing songs, despite not having a single present to open or a piece of food to eat. When the Grinch sees this, you can see his eyes brighten and his soul lighten. I feel the same way as I realize now that the most important thing you can do is to make someone feel valued, not give something of value.

I use what I learned that day and my lessons from The Grinch in how I treat patients. I even made up my own Dr. Seuss style rhyme to help me remember:

As dentists, we fix teeth and make gums feel less sore.

But maybe we can do a
whole lot more.

Remember that even though
our duty is to heal

What people care about most
is how we make them feel.


About the Author

Dr. Sanjukta Mohanta is a general dentist practicing in Brampton, Ontario. She can be reached at sanjuktamohanta@hotmail.com and @drsanjmohanta on Instagram.


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