And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
I was raised on Snoopy, Linus, Woodstock, and all the others in the Peanuts gang, and this comic strip had more of an impact on my childhood than any other cartoon or cartoon character that has ever existed. While many of my friends were caught up in their dreamworlds of Speed Racer, The Fantastic Four, or even The Archies or Scooby Doo, I was diligently working on my artistic recreations of the Peanuts characters. These guys were real to me. I could identify with Charlie Brown’s woes, Lucy’s big-sister hold over Linus (not to mention his philosophic outlook on life), and Peppermint Patty’s more adventurous lifestyle. It was Snoopy, though, who represented a love-for-life approach in everything he did that gave me a happy outlook on my own life.
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.
I literally grew up watching A Charlie Brown Christmas since I was a baby. It was released the year I was born, 1965. In this short episode was everything anybody ever needed to know about Christmas — spending time with friends. . . .
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Sharing gifts with loved ones. . .
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And boldly enough, the origins of the birth of Christ.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
It’s hard to believe that a single cartoon could have such a profound influence on anybody. Yet, 44 years later, A Charlie Brown Christmas is still a holiday classic, despite ABC’s butchering of the show just two weeks ago to make time for Disney’s Prep & Landing. It is reassuring that they didn’t touch Linus’ response to Charlie Brown (below) when he asks “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
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.
Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts creator and illustrator, was adamant that Linus’ reading of Luke from the King James Bible stay in the final version of the story, exclaiming, “If we don’t tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?” Schulz, in the final minutes of the show, marries the reading of the verses from Chapter 2 of Luke with a few more words of Linus’ wisdom: Love is a very powerful thing, and sometimes, all we need to do is share it to bring out the beauty in all things, even Charlie Brown Christmas trees.
So many life lessons in such a simple Christmas TV special (which, ironically enough, was originally filled with many blatant commercial pitches for its number one sponsor, Coca-Cola…Talk about the commercialization of Christmas!).
This song, “Christmas Time Is Here,” helps me keep that true meaning close to me. The innocence in the voices, the simplicity in Guaraldi’s piano playing, the classic characters of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and all the others singing together in the snow — all of it shields me from the commercial and secular celebrations of Christmas and finds deep within me the true meaning of Christmas.
May the voices of innocence remind us all that, indeed, Christmas Time Is Here, and there is much to celebrate.