Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Published 7:30 am Sunday, December 11, 2022

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Fifty-seven years ago this month, a 30-minute animated cartoon aired on CBS featuring the Peanuts characters. The Christmastime showing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” TV Special has become an annual tradition.

The idea for the animated feature came from a meeting in the home of Charles Shultz, creator of Peanuts, with Executive Producer Lee Mendelson and his brother, Director Bill Mendelson.

This year marks the 100th birthday of Charles Shultz, who’s described as a religious man, reportedly told them, “If we’re going to do a Christmas special, we’ve got to do it the right way and talk about what Christmas is all about.”

During the 1965 TV program, Charlie Brown says to his friend, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy.”

Charlie Brown searches for an answer to an important question. He asks his friends, “Is there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” How would you answer that question? Author Louisa May Alcott wrote in her book, Little Women, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.”

Scottish poet Alexander Smith once said, “Christmas is the day that holds all time together.” Dr. Seuss has written, “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

The answer to Charlie Brown’s question that Schultz insisted on including in the script almost didn’t make it into the finished product. It was considered risky. Linus Van Pelt told Charlie Brown, “I can tell what Christmas is all about.” Then Linus steps toward the center of the stage, lays down his blanket and says, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.’” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

Then Linus picks up his blanket and states, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Someone once said, “Christmas began in the heart of God. It is complete only when it reaches the heart of man.” Rev. Neil Strait put it this way, “When we take him (Jesus) out of the manger and invite him into our hearts, then the meaning unfolds and the strangeness vanishes.”

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”