Keeping Christ in Christmas seems simple enough but is it really in today’s day and age? I think I speak for many when I say the Christmas holiday season has been over-commercialized over the years. It seems every year we see decorations and supplies coming out earlier and earlier, different department stores advertising their layaway options so you can get the latest gadget for little Timmy, and of course the Hess truck being back and better than ever for Christmas this year. I remember just a few TV Christmas Specials growing up, and now there are marathons and weeks full of them. Rudolph and Frosty were great, but my favorite special was always a Charlie Brown Christmas
Charlie Brown recognized the over-commercialization of the Christmas holiday. Charlie Brown confides in his friend Linus that even though Christmas is approaching he still feels depressed, despite all the presents, cards and tree decorating, due to the over-commercialization of Christmas. His depression and aggravation only get exacerbated by the goings-on in the neighborhood. His dog Snoopy is decorating his dog house in order to win a neighborhood lights contest; Charlie’s own sister Sally asks him to write a letter to Santa requesting large sums of money in denominations of tens and twenties which would be equivalent to fifties and one hundreds in today’s dollars. Finally Charlie tries to direct a play that would depict the nativity scene, but the children can only think about modernizing it with dance and lively music.
Charlie tries to bring the play ‘the proper mood’ with a Christmas tree, and the children send him out with Linus to get a ‘big, shiny aluminum tree.’ When Charlie arrives to the tree market, despite all the big shiny aluminum trees, Charlie Brown zeros in on a small baby tree, which ironically is the only real one in the lot. Convinced that the tree just needed a little love, he brings it back to decorate it only to receive laughter and criticism. Finally Charlie has enough and screams a question that is still relevant today: Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!
Linus steps forth and recites from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke:
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And 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. 12And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.'"
Linus finishes by telling Charlie Brown ‘that’s what Christmas is all about,’ Charlie Brown realizes he doesn’t have to let the over-commercialization ruin his Christmas, and decides to go decorate the tree. His cast members also realize that they were a little hard on Charlie and decorate the tree while he is getting some decorations from Snoopy’s first place dog house lights. The special ends with the children humming ‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.’
I love this TV special because it touches on the over-commercialization of this holiday and reminds us what Christmas is all about: Jesus! Remind yourself and others this holiday season that Jesus is the reason for the season, and that despite all the ‘big shiny aluminum trees’ that look like light contests, large sums of cash and gifts from Santa, that the representation of that baby evergreen tree is the real reason why we celebrate- the birth of the baby Jesus!