Charlie Brown's Christmas


In the mid-1960’s Charlie Brown was experiencing a crisis. Surrounded by crass aluminum psychedelic Christmas trees and unapologetic commercialism, his quest for the true meaning of Christmas seemed hopeless. In his world of pop-psychology and let-it-all-hang-out me-ism, it seemed that the true meaning of Christmas was forgotten amidst the greed and self-absorption. Until, of course, Linus filled in the missing details.


This concern that Christmas has lost its meaning changed somewhat in the forty years since Snoopy first decorated his dog house. Today, Christmas is not meaningless. Rather, it has come to mean too much. Early Christians instituted the time as a season of worship (Christ mass), where they marveled at the miraculous wonder of God stepping into time and space and shrouding Himself in a garment of flesh. It has now evolved into whatever one’s heart would like it to mean. Whatever tradition, view of goodness and right, or disposition toward God one may have, there is always room under the holiday tree.


So completely has the holiday season morphed into a conglomeration of anything that makes the heart warm and the eye sparkle that stores like Target consciously ceased to put “Merry Christmas” in their advertising for fear of offending potential consumers who celebrate holiday cheer devoid of Jesus Christ. Season’s greetings are cheered to those whose last week in December is a happy time chosen from a smorgasbord that contains endless choices of views and traditions.


On the one hand, we are American individualists and we should be free to celebrate whatever the heck we want however the heck we want to do it. On the other hand, it does seem rather shallow that the incarnation, the profound entry of God into humankind, has been summarily reduced to vague feelings of peace, a shoe buffer for Uncle Ned and twinkle lights.


If Linus were still about toting his blanket, he would walk upon the stage and ask for the lights to be raised. He would then say:

“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 you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my 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, and good will toward men.’”
And when he was done, he would look at our world where we strive so desperately towards Christmas all-inclusion that we have reduced the holiday to its lowest common denominator of meaning. He would then say very pointedly concerning the text from Luke, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”


Dave Sable may be reached at

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