I’m going to break my rules. By the Book is a blog that blends together a love of reading and a love for God. It says so right under the name. So, my posts always contain a devotional aspect and either a book review or writing insight. But tonight, as I wait for a yearly Christmas tradition to begin, I can’t help writing about it instead.
In less than an hour A Charlie Brown Christmas will begin. I have it on DVD, but there is something special about waiting for it to air on TV and tuning in with thousands of people I don’t even know to watch it, commercials and all. My kids used to watch it with me, but they are in that stage of life where they have more important, less childish things to do with their time. They haven’t lived long enough to come back to their senses and realize the childish things are some of the best things in life. I hope one day they will, but until that day, I will continue to watch this short cartoon every Christmas.
To me, A Charlie Brown Christmas is special. I mean, I love Frosty and the Grinch too, but Charlie is different. Charlie Brown includes all the fun of Christmas, while touching on enough of the adult angst of the season’s commercialism to appeal to an older audience in addition to kids. Who can’t relate to Charlie Brown’s mood when he realizes he can’t muster up the bright feelings he’s supposed to have at Christmas? But what makes this special is that it doesn’t tiptoe around the real meaning of the season either.
I love that scene where Charlie Brown has reached his limits. The gang has bludgeoned his already shaky holiday spirit by making fun of the little tree he brings from the tree lot. He has officially lost sight of everything Christmas is supposed to mean and cries out for help. What is the holiday all about? Wise-beyond-his-years Linus steps in with the answer, a beautiful recitation of the story of the first Christmas. “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” It’s a reminder for Charlie, and it’s a reminder for us.
There aren’t many Christmas specials these days that aren’t afraid to mention the real reason we celebrate. Some of the old ones did, and they have either fallen by the wayside or been edited until only hints of a Christ-centered Christmas remain. Charlie Brown stands alone or very nearly so. Its message is clear. There’s no editing it out. And it still remains a staple of the holiday viewing season. It’s proof that we don’t have to abandon Christ to have fun at Christmas. We don’t have to leave Jesus at the door to appeal to a broad audience. Charlie Brown has succeeded at staying in mainstream media while letting the world remember the baby in the manger, the gift of love from God to His creation.
As believers, it’s a worthy goal to reach for. To be salt and light to the world in whatever place God takes us to. In my writing, I want people to see God’s truth. I want to encourage other believers in living out their faith. I want those who don’t know God to come away with an understanding of His love and a desire to know Him. I hope my writing speaks honestly and plainly enough about this messy life to appeal to those who may not already be believers. I want them to see not only the truth about life in what I write, but also the truth about life with God.
Okay, so I didn’t totally break my rule. There is a little about writing in this after all. But maybe you don’t write. You don’t have to. You can be an accountant or an attendant at a gas station and still share this hope of showing others Christ in what you do. The point is not where or how you reach others. It is simply to reach others with God’s love, both inside our circle of believers and in the world around us. Aim to be Linus. Be the one who isn’t afraid to say, “This is what it’s all about”, no matter where you are.
By the Book: Gather your family or friends and host a Charlie Brown Christmas viewing party. Keep it simple with cookies and hot cocoa or popcorn and soda. Use the time to remember why we celebrate.