One of the songs that popped up came from the original soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas. Jazz musician Vince Guaraldi's score is simple and brilliant. Listening to the vocal version of "Christmas Time Is Here" brought back some wonderful Christmas memories.
Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my annual delights. (The show airs on ABC on Thursday, December 16th or watch in online at ABC.com) The message of Christmas and the meaning of Christmas is powerfully portrayed in this classic show. In many ways Christmas has become an economic and not a religious holiday. There are so many icons like Santa Claus and Rudolph and the Grinch that are not at all related to the religious aspect of the holiday. The annual battles over nativity scenes are being fought around the country. Just today I heard about a nativity scene getting removed from a public terminal. One of the most powerful reminders of the message of Christmas came from the genius of the late Charles Schultz in A Charlie Brown Christmas. One simple and elegant scene captures it all for me. Charlie Brown has failed miserably in his attempt to find the true meaning of Christmas. But then Linus recites the following passage from the King James version of the Bible.
"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 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 Saviour, 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."
And then Linus turns and says this powerful line to Charlie Brown.
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
That is what I believe Christmas is all about. I used to get upset about the efforts to banish Christmas from the public square. I still don't understand the passion and anger of some toward these symbols that mean so much to so many people. I get it that some feel a little left out and even awkward about Christmas. As a Cleveland Brown's fan I feel left out and awkward when I am around fans of winning teams. But I soldier on. Let them have their victory parties and that thing they call playoffs.
Without a doubt this show would be different if produced today. Whoopi Goldberg hosted a documentary produced about the making of the show. Charles Schultz received substantial pushback even back in 1965 from network officials who did not want to have the Christmas story read from the Bible. They thought the King James version was too boring for kids. But Schultz demanded it be included with this simple declaration.
"If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?"
And for forty-five years Charles Schultz has had a hand in telling millions of viewers the true meaning of Christmas. The lyrics from "Christmas Time Is Here" continue with this wish.
Oh, that we could always see
Such spirit through the year.
Wouldn't that be wonderful? Charlie Brown's heart was changed by the simple story of Christmas. At the end of the show all of the kids come together to sing a classic Christmas carol.
Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"
It is easy to get frustrated and angry when the Christmas pushback gets ridiculous. But I try to demonstrate the grace that I receive as a follower of Christ. If I may paraphrase Linus I would remind all of us.
"That's also what Christmas is all about."