It is that time of year again. The Christmas season is upon us. It can be a joyous, exciting time. It can also be a stressful, frustrating time. There are traditions to enjoy, gifts to wrap, places, to go, and decorations to put up. The list goes on and on. If you are a conscientious parent, you most likely desire that your child appreciate the “true meaning” of Christmas. What exactly is that?
In the 1960 cartoon feature A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown (one of the main characters made famous by Charles Schulz in the cartoon strip Peanuts) tells his friend Linus that despite all the traditions of Christmas presents, holiday cards and decorations, he still winds up depressed, but is not sure why. Linus points out that Charlie Brown is the only one he knows that turns Christmas into a problem. Charlie Brown’s depression is only made worse by the rampant commercialism. (sound familiar?)
He encounters Violet and sarcastically “thanks” her for the Christmas card he never received, only for Violet to proudly snipe back that she never sent him one. At the psychiatric booth manned by Lucy (another prominent character), Lucy expresses joy in the sound of jingling money. She tries to diagnose Charlie Brown with various phobias and ultimately decides that Charlie Brown needs more involvement. Lucy recommends that Charlie Brown direct an upcoming Christmas play and offers to help him do so.
At Snoopy’s doghouse, Charlie Brown is further disgusted when he finds out that his dog has entered the doghouse into a lights and display contest with a cash prize. He is finally accosted by his sister Sally, who asks him to write her letter to Santa Claus. When she hints at having an extremely long and specific list of requests, and says she will accept large sums of money as a substitute (“tens and twenties”), Charlie Brown becomes even more dismayed and runs off.
Charlie Brown arrives at the rehearsal, but he is unable to gain control of the situation, since everyone in the play has their own agendas. Charlie Brown decides the play needs “the proper mood” and suggests they should get a Christmas tree. He and Linus take off to get one. They bring it back only to be scorned by Lucy and the other girls who, along with Snoopy, walk off laughing.
At his wit’s end, Charlie Brown loudly asks if anybody knows what Christmas is all about. Linus says he does and, after walking to center stage, recites the annunciation to the shepherds from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14, as translated by the Authorized King James Version:
“8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.”
We share this story with you because it is emblematic of what people for millennia have and will struggle with at this time of the year. We here at CRCS want you to know that eternal peace and goodwill are found in the message of the gospel of Christ.