(Photo courtesy of http://abc30.com/)
Finding the True Meaning of Christmas
A Look at a ‘Peanuts’ Classic
By Sarah Komisky
This year, the cartoon that President Obama dubbed a “Beloved Christmas Tradition” is hitting television screens again for the 51st time. Withstanding several decades, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” has stood the test of time not only for its adorable characters or catchy jazz renditions but also for its message.
As kids, we loved the cartoon because hey, it’s the “Peanuts” gang! But as we grew up, many of us more and more identified with the character of Charlie Brown. Disillusioned, discouraged, and disenchanted, Charlie Brown is searching for the true meaning of Christmas. And maybe that’s why the cartoon has remained a favorite in pop culture. Maybe because it resonates so much with us.
About seven years ago, I found myself asking the questions Charlie Brown did. After all the shopping, eating, gathering, singing, and decorating, I was left a little restless. Like Charlie Brown, who saw all his friends getting caught up in commercialism, I remember having a conversation with a friend about the subject. All of it just felt very much like cotton candy- sweet but never satisfying. Fast forward two years and I found myself sitting on a pew on Christmas feeling the same way. It felt like something was missing and like Charlie Brown, I was wondering if there was more.
Many of us feel like that. The world perpetually plays songs about Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, and Jingle Bells. We deck our halls. We bake our cookies. We shop till we drop. We wear our ugly sweaters. The world’s white noise shots festive cheer yet we feel empty. We feel confused. We feel annoyed. We feel burnt out until we erupt, “Does anybody know what Christmas is all about?”
Many of us are searching for answers when commercialism leaves us empty. In the Peanuts special, Linus enters at a point when Charlie Brown is at his wits’ end. He shares with Charlie Brown from the gospel of Luke 2:8-14 pointing him to the Savior, Christ the Lord who was born on Christmas. Like a true friend, Linus offers hope saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
I know the world calls this message “controversial.” It was even that way at the time of its premier in 1965 when they thought sharing a monologue from the Bible in a cartoon simply wouldn’t be believable. It can even be thought of as old-fashioned or not politically correct but it’s the message of Christ born in a manger for us to be our Savior that brings hope. In fact, it was this message that caused Charlie Brown to finally experience the joy and fulfillment and meaning of the holiday he longed for. Knowing we have a Savior in Christ truly brings the great joy, peace, and grace that the angels in Luke spoke of to in our own lives.
As for me, three Christmases ago, I found what Charlie Brown, Linus, and the “Peanuts” gang found to be true. With this hope of Christ as my Savior, I discovered the true meaning of Christmas. Then everything else became an added bonus. As a modern day Linus, I pray I can point you Charlie Browns in the right direction when you’re looking for meaning this season. May you embrace it and find that it’s even more than you imagined it to be.