The Grinch and a heart transplant

By: By Mac McPhail - Contributing columnist

Honestly, I wasn’t too excited when I saw that the musical, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” was on our itinerary for our bus trip to Nashville. But it was part of the package so I went along with it. The rest of the trip looked really neat, staying at Opryland, and getting to hear music stars like Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, and the Gatlin Brothers. Besides, I would get to hear one of my favorite Christmas tunes, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Even as a kid, I never really was a fan of Dr. Seuss. The stories never made sense to me, and most of the characters in his books looked weird. Dick, Jane and Spot were more my style.

The musical was a pleasant and enjoyable surprise. You could tell the production had come to Nashville directly from New York, with several cast members having Broadway experience. Of course, the actor portraying the Grinch stole the show. The musical was fun and entertaining.

The Grinch was not a good person. (Was he a person? All I know is that he was mean and green.) The best way to describe him, from the song, was “Stink, stank, stunk!” They said the reason he was so mean was because his heart was two sizes too small.

You know how the story goes. The Grinch hates Christmas and all the people of Whoville. So he steals all the Christmas presents and food for Christmas, thinking it would make the folks of Whoville hurt and mean, just like him. But they keep the Christmas spirit anyway. This changes the Grinch, he gets the Christmas spirit, gives everything back, and turns into a nice guy, but still green. So nice, they say the Grinch’s heart grew three times that day.

The heart. What does a muscle that keeps the blood flowing through your body have to do with being a nice person or not? The heart is the most important part of your body. If it stops, you stop, for good. So, through the years, the heart has been used to describe the most important inner workings of a person, who they are. When someone loves you “with all their heart,” or they want to have a “heart to heart” talk with you, you know they really mean it. We know what it means when a person has a “broken heart, lonely heart, cold heart, or empty heart.” The heart is the central organ of spirituality, desires, emotions and attitudes.

I thought back to the Grinch’s heart while talking with Jerry, another passenger on the Nashville trip. In his late sixties, this was a special trip for Jerry. Just over a year ago, Jerry was in very bad health. His heart was failing. His doctor at UNC hospital told him in late October 2014 that if he didn’t get a transplant soon, he would not make it. Two weeks later, a donor heart suddenly became available and a transplant operation was performed. The operation was a success and Jerry had a new heart.

Jerry and his wife were having a great time on the trip. He was smiling the whole time, cracking jokes, and conversing with everyone he met. He had a new heart and he was quick to give credit and praise to God to anyone that would listen. As Vince Gill closed out the Grand Ole Opry program with the song, “Give Me Jesus,” you couldn’t help but hear Jerry cheering with the audience.

Coming home, the bus dropped off Jerry and his wife, and a few other passengers in Garner. As he got off the bus, Jerry was still smiling, talking and laughing. I told another passenger on the bus, “You can sure tell that they didn’t give him a heart two sizes too small!”

How’s your heart this Christmas? (Not the beating one, although I hope it’s doing well.) Like the Grinch, I hope your heart is not two sizes too small. In the Bible, Ezekiel 36:26 states, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Is your heart broken, lonely, cold, or empty this Christmas? Maybe it’s time for a transplant.

Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at

By Mac McPhail

Contributing columnist

Mac McPhail McPhail

Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at