One of the highlights of the Christmas season at our house is watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Even more classic than ‘It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story,” Charlie Brown reminds us of the reason for the season.
Fake aluminum Christmas trees, Sally’s letter to Santa asking for “tens and twenties,” and Lucy confiding that all she really wants is “real estate” leave Charlie Brown feeling depressed. We’ve all been there. Although this iconic television show was created in 1965, its message that Christmas has been hijacked by commercialism still hits home 44 years later. In fact, it’s gotten much worse. Charlie Brown, in despair, asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” When Linus steps into the spotlight and reads the story of the birth of Jesus, we all feel better. Sure, it’s just a cartoon. But it’s a really, really good one. And who doesn’t love watching Snoopy dance?
As we suffer through economic catastrophe, as our troops valiantly fight a war without enough troops, and as the general state of the world is more uncertain that most of us can remember, we need Charlie Brown’s Christmas message more than ever. While most of us are relieved that our President will announce the deployment of reinforcements to help those already in Afghanistan, his timing for the announcement could not be worse. Yes, it may be minor, but choosing to preempt “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is a bad decision. Did the White House even notice? Sure, we can all buy the DVD, but some families may not be able to afford it. Perhaps the network will reschedule Charlie Brown. That forlorn, pathetic Christmas tree which Charlie Brown chooses is a symbol of hope at Christmas. President Obama promised us hope. As Linus says, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”
Of course, our ultimate hope lies in the scripture recited by Linus: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."