My wife enjoys watching Christmas movies around the Christmas season. Of the many Christmas movies available, there are a few that I enjoy watching even repeatedly. We even own a few Christmas movies and we watch most of them every year. There are two movies I do not mind watching every year: The Little Drummer Boy and A Charlie Bown Christmas.
No matter how simple A Charlie Brown Christmas is, it still moves me every time I see it. I have to admit that I am a softy. Tears can be seen on my face during many films. I try to justify this by stating that I can place myself into a good story and am capable of plumbing the depth of the meaning and purpose of a story. Yeah, that is it .. it is not just that I am a softy. I cried near the end of A League of Her Own. Yes, I did. Why? Because I imagined myself trying to decide if I would be willing to drop the ball to let my brother win a championship. I would like to think that I would be willing to do that.
I get emotional when watching A Charlie Brown Christmas for many different reasons. It seems as if I get emotional for a different reason every time I see it. This last time focused on Charlie Brown’s tree and the message delivered just before Charlie Brown takes the tree home.
Before they first aired A Charlie Brown Christmas most of its creators and executives thought it was going to be a flop. (How do I know this? Because I own the DVD with commentary, and yes I watched the commentary, that is why. Stop judging me.) They thought the production was too simple and too boring. Granted it is not an hysterical show and it certainly is not fast paced. However, this little premier shocked everyone and 50 years later, it is a Christmas staple.
The interesting thing is that one of the reasons it is such a hit is one of the reasons why it was thought to fail: simplicity.
Charlie Brown was distraught because he could not find the Christmas spirit. While everyone was happy, he was glum. He did not know exactly why. He knew something was wrong with the way people were celebrating Christmas, but he did not know exactly how to find the Christmas spirit. Friends, family, promised gifts, plays, bright lights and trees were not enough to get him in the Spirit. He knew something was missing, but he did not know what. Finally the exasperated Charlie Brown threw up his hands and cried, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”
Linus calmly replied, “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” Linus revealed that the simple meaning of Christmas was the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world, the One who brings peace and good-will towards men.
With that proclamation, without a word, Charlie Brown, with a relieved and peaceful smile, scooped up his tree and headed home.
What brought such relief and peace? The simplicity of the message of Christ. Christmas does not need friends, family, gifts, plays, bright lights, and colorful trees to make it special and to usher in its spirit.
All Christmas needs is a Savior.
Jesus Christ, the everlasting Lord, is that Savior.
Too many times we get depressed around Christmas time because we focus on everything surrounding Christmas except for its central figure. Joy, peace, love is all found in Christ and what He did for us. Nothing else is needed. Everything else is just the wrapping, Christ is the gift.
All the lights, gifts, and smiling faces are appropriate when celebrating Christ’s coming, but they are not what matters. Without Christ, there is no real reason for the lights, gifts, and smiling faces. There is no Christmas spirit. Christ is the Spirit.
The simplicity of Christmas is Christ. Christmas does not need anything else to be special. Christ is way more than special enough.
Christmas is simple; its message is simple. Christ’s promises and rewards are great.
At the end of the show, Charlie Brown’s simple tree was transformed into a lovely decorated tree. That is what Christ does with our lives. We are simple, but He decorates us and makes us lovely. He is the inspiration behind the lights, gifts, and smiling faces. He is the simple statement of Christmas.
*I have written on Christmas before. If you would like too, please feel free to read it.