Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Lesson From Charlie Brown

As a kid, I always loved watching the Charles M. Schulz Peanuts characters celebrate holidays. The shows were always entertaining with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. It was also a special treat to be able to view a cartoon on prime time television when the adults usually ruled the airwaves. These shows originally aired in the 1960s, long before the 24/7 animation overload of Cartoon Network! I recall as a child that our family television only received five television broadcast stations in the Chicagoland area: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and independent WGN. None of them offered much in children's programming outside of the usual Saturday morning cartoon fare.

Watching these Peanuts shows now as an adult I realize that they are also full of great life lessons. I have come to greatly admire Charles M. Schulz for bravely creating shows for children that didn't back away from tough issues related to religion and society. We are all fortunate that these classics were created during the era they were, as I doubt few producers would touch these topics in the same manner today; it wouldn't be politically correct or Hollywood hip to do so.

'A Charlie Brown Christmas' in particular reflects Schulz's strong Christian faith when Charlie Brown, confused by the blatant commercialism of Christmas, questions if he really knows what the holiday is about. His friend Linus comes to the rescue by quietly quoting Scripture from the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 8 through 14:

"'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 good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 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, good will toward men.' That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Hearing this, Charlie Brown realizes that he does not have to let commercialism ruin his Christmas. I hope that this lesson from Charlie Brown can also be a lesson for all of us during the busy holiday season...

Slow down, watch the Peanuts' Christmas special, and don't forget what Christmas is all about.