Friday, November 18, 2011
on Charlie Brown's Christmas
Sometime around l981 I started getting in touch with Christmas specials. Not the elegant specials, with classical music and oboe solos, but cartoon specials. The Edmonton newspaper (Canada) posted the times and dates of all upcoming specials and I marked my calendar with 14 or 15 events to watch with the kids. Even Big Steve joins us when Claymation Christmas starts. Here is a wee taste:
http://youtu.be/pMALk-i3TA8 (I don't know how to make this a link...sorry)
We sit snuggled on the chesterfield (for you Americans, that is a couch) and watch little kid Christmas bliss every time we can. We chortle through the Grinch, snort at Garfield, watch Santa's reindeer conquer the abominable snowman. It is magic.
A favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Midway through the program Linus stands up and tells Charlie what Christmas really means.
"There were shepherds in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. The angel came and said, 'Fear not. For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day a Savior, Christ the Lord.' 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.' THAT's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
This week while in a large unnamed store, (rhymes with Ball Cart) I spotted a beautifully colored book of the Charlie Brown Christmas. I pick it up, feeling nostalgic, and flip through the pages. I flip through the pages again, and finally go page by page. The story is exact. The words in order and the pictures large and beautiful - the same child-minded images of years ago.
But one page is missing. The page where Linus steps up and tells Charlie what the meaning of Christmas is. I feel great indignation over this clear bastardization of the 'precious text'. Whether you like it or not, Linus speaks the meaning of the Christ mass. Charles M. Schultz would be appalled since the whole point of the story is discovery of meaning. It is like having a book about Hanuka that only talks about pretty candles and interesting food. Where there is meaning, let it be.
The truth is that the world has been and is been stunned by the idea that God came to us as a baby. The incarnation is the seedbed of some of the greatest music, art and literature of the human race. Even those who don't grasp the story know that Christmas is big...something happened. Something happens in our hearts around Christmas, even the Scrooges know this. This Christmas thing is bigger than us, bigger than presents, bigger than decorations and food. It has ended wars, revolutionized lives, reestablished hope and put sparkle in the darkest winter days.
So I for one will be sure that my Christmas includes the page torn out by deconstructionists who fear the story of God. I have my reindeer out on the window ledge and there will be other signs of festivity in my home, but in my heart I know that these tinselly trinkets are only my small way of reflecting back to God the twinkle in His eye.