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How the Grinch Didn't Steal Christmas

As we close out 2021, and being the holiday season, I thought I would impart a personal experience that ultimately was a factor in defining me as a human being.

It’s the 1970s and I am a seven-years old. Its Christmas and I am out with my mother at the local K-Mart as she is shopping for gifts. Being the 70s, conveniences like ATM machines, debit cards, etc. were not readily available so most people went to their local branch and withdrew Christmas Money from the bank and paid for gifts with cash (gasp, yes that was a real process). This Christmas Money was put into a large bank envelope.

Back to the store with my mother. My mother has her purse in the shopping cart child seat (as most women do) and the Christmas Money envelope is sticking up out of her purse. She turned or walked away to look at merchandise and, in that moment, a bad actor stole her envelope. I remember the aftermath very clearly. My mother was devastated. All our Christmas Money was gone.

This was an enormous issue. We were not a poor family, but my dad was the sole provider for four children and had recently taken my grandfather into our home to care for him. 1970s - bad economy, hyper-inflation, OPEC embargo, coming out of an unpopular war, layoffs – basically stressors everywhere.

My parents still found a way to provide Christmas to their immediate and extended family. They never buckled. As an adult, I now comprehend and appreciate the sheer emotional and physical effort my parents endured in solving that challenge, not for them, but for us.

So, what did my parents teach me?

1. Bad people live on this planet. They do bad things.

2. Protect yourself and your loved ones but be prepared for trouble.

3. Obstacles can be solved.

4. Life is hard. Have will and persevere.

5. Laugh during bad times. Whatever you are dealing with it is not so bad.

6. Appreciate what you have, others may not be as fortunate.

Basically, they taught me to be a Mahovlich, and I am a better human for it. People often ask me why I am so hyper-passionate about cyber defense and working to protect people who are not relevant to my immediate circle. I think this glimpse into my childhood helps provide some of that answer.

Somewhere parents are doing their best to provide for their families, and somewhere someone is trying their best to ruin it. It is not about data and dollars. It is about people. In the end the Grinch failed to steal the Mahovlich Family Christmas.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

To all my clients, partners, friends and family – Merry Christmas!

Mark Mahovlich

Vice President of Strategy & Execution ICM Cyber


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