Blog #267: What Linus Teaches Us About Christmas

John Cline

When I was a boy, back in the day before widespread computer technology and Hallmark Christmas movies, we would watch on tv during the Christmas Season the painful “Claymation” classic “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, the scary but ultimately redemptive (and it was in black-and-white!) cinematic retelling starring Alastair Sim of Charles Dickens’ classic book “A Christmas Carol”, and the black-and-white and then wonderfully-in-colour “The Wizard of Oz” (which had nothing to do with Christmas but which was shown every year on Christmas Day). None of those shows were satisfying. But then, in 1965, the wonderful 20-minute long cartoon for tv, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” came into being and all of a sudden, Christmas tv viewing improved tremendously in my opinion. I loved it then and I still love it today! has it for your online viewing or you can still find it on television if you wish to view it.

Based on the Peanuts comic strip created by Charles Schulz, getting the show on the air in the first place was a success as the tv executives Charles Schulz dealt with wanted nothing to do with a Christian depiction of Christmas. Reindeers, scary ghost stories, and flying monkeys were all ok, but not the actual reason for Christmas: the birth of Jesus. But, Schulz held firm and added to his telling of the story of “what Christmas is all about” by having a message deriding society’s preoccupation at Christmas with consumerism and commercialism, Charlie Brown expressing doubts about himself (doubts that were affirmed by his mocking peers), and then the saddest event of all: Charlie Brown picks out a pathetic little, needleless, Christmas tree that everyone, including his dog Snoopy, laughs at. In the midst of all that, Charlie Brown makes a plaintive plea, “isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” his young friend Linus assures him, “sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about” and then launches into a recitation of Luke 2.

Despite what our world tells us Christmas is all about: the “spirit of Christmas”, warm feelings, romance, family gatherings, commercialism, or consumerism, Christmas really is about the birth of Jesus, the one who brings light into this darkened world, life to those who feel like they are dying, hope to those without hope. Jesus is what Christmas is all about. Thank you, Linus, and thank you, Charles Schulz, for this truth.

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