A Charlie Brown Christmas was released in 1965. That was the year that the Vietnam War topped 100,000 soldiers. We needed some Merry Christmas. Creator of the Peanuts cartoons, Charles Schultz, and producer, Lee Mendelson, created the television special that featured 25 minutes of wonderful animation, jazz, and a special message for a weary country. It was terrific! A Charlie Brown Christmas won an Emmy, and later a Peabody Award.
Charlie Brown can’t “understand Christmas,” because he’s “doing all the Christmas things” and is “still depressed.” Lucy, who provides psychological counseling for a nickel, advises, “You just need more Christmas INVOLVEMENT.” She cons Charlie into directing the children’s Christmas play. No one follows Charlie’s directions—the kids would rather dance to Schroeder’s jazz piano!
A tree is needed for the play and Charlie’s little sister, adopting the commercial fad of the year, insists a pink aluminum tree would be just right. Linus, wrapped in an ever-present companion blanket, goes with Charlie to search for greenery, but they find only a scrawny little green tree with pine needles that rain down whenever it’s moved. Catastrophe! Charlie is not even good at finding props for the play.
It all seems out of control and chaotic until Linus, the sweet voice of unhurried Christmas joy and message, answers Charlie’s plaintive question, “Doesn’t anyone know what Christmas is all about?”
“I know what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” says Linus. Moving into a spotlight on the stage, he recites from Luke 2:8–14:
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” (Linus drops his ever-present companion blanket.)
“For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men.”
Linus was right. There in the fields so long ago, the Shekinah glory of God broke through! Not seen for hundreds of years, it manifested before humble people of no social status. Directing them to the one Messiah, their Good Shepherd and King, the joyful angels announced Christmas! And Jesus was there, in Bethlehem, just as angels and prophets said!
Ultimately the Peanuts crowd caught the Christmas spirit of love and joy, too, as they decorated the scrawny tree, which became a beauty, and they danced and sang. The children heard Linus. Let's decide to hear him, too.
We can do it! We can ignore the fads and externals that do not satisfy and, like Linus, drop our defenses. Dance and sing this Christmas. Rejoice. Jesus still lives, and loves, and saves. Have a blessed and merry Christmas!