This is a devotion I shared at our annual Ladies Christmas Brunch:
Linus Was Right!
When my boys were young we watched many Christmas shows. One of my favorite Christmas DVDs is the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I don’t know if you have seen it, but …
In this cartoon Charlie Brown can’t seem to get into the joyous, celebratory Christmas mood like all his friends. He’s depressed. Nothing seems right to him in all the Christmas celebrations going on around him. He is not pleased by the materialism going on in his friends.
There is a scene where all the characters are on stage practicing for their Christmas program and Charlie Brown is asked to go and get a Christmas tree. He comes back with the wimpiest, tiniest, scraggliest tree you can imagine. He brings the tree to his friends on the stage and is met with disapproval. “You’ve been dumb before Charlie Brown, but this time you really did it.”
Charlie Brown, dismayed and discouraged, cries out: “I guess I just don’t know what Christmas is all about.” And then he lifts up his bowling ball size head and asks: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” His friend Linus gently responds, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”
And from the King James Version of the Bible in the book of Luke 2:8-14, with a sweet childlike voice, Linus recites:
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 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, goodwill toward men.
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
This past September when my husband and I were at Cracker Barrel, we noticed they had already put up their Christmas tree displays with ornaments and there were all kinds of Christmas decorations and musical Christmas toys. And I poked around, looking at the many quaint ornaments and pressing buttons on the musical toys … and I sighed very deeply inside. Christmas is just not what it used to be in our home.
When my boys were little, from about three years old, they entered fully with their hearts and minds into all the Christmas traditions my husband and I shared with them. They easily got into celebrating with joy and anticipation, and there was that magical wonder that we love in young children around Christmas.
We went Christmas tree shopping together. We sang Christmas carols. We drove around looking at Christmas lights. We made Christmas cookies. We watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” together and other movies, and on and on. My sons did it all without having to talk them into it. They didn’t need to be convinced. They were just ready to do everything that was Christmas. They got excited, and as parents we just loved it. It just felt like – wow… this is really what Christmas is all about!
Once my boys got past the ages of 11 or 12 or so, the mood around Christmas traditions began to change some. The Christmas traditions we had built into our family began to lose some of their joyful, magical charm. It got harder to corral everybody. My husband would say, “Hey boys, let’s go out and get a Christmas tree.” And they would respond, “Do we have to go now?” or, “How long is it going to take?” They didn’t get as excited when we would pull out our Christmas decoration boxes. They lost interest in watching our beloved Christmas DVD shows. The “this is what Christmas is all about spirit” began to change in the Fowler household.
Going back to Cracker Barrel, as I am looking at all the decorations and knowing that my youngest son is now in his last year of high school, I found myself asking, “How do I celebrate Christmas? What is Christmas all about?” And that’s when the Charlie Brown scene I just shared with you came to mind. That scene really spoke to me. I often have heard it said, “Christmas is for the children.” Well, I guess it’s true if we are referring only to the traditions we did as a family with our sons.
But I began to meditate on Christ’s birth and the significance and impact of his coming into our world as a man. And I realized that as I continue to grow in faith and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, celebrating his promises, worshipping, spending time in his presence, savoring his grace and mercy in my life, knowing that I am redeemed….celebrating Christmas has more meaning to me. Celebrating our Savior’s birth really becomes more joyous for me.
Christmas traditions and family are wonderful. They all have their place and season. But ornaments break, paper chains fade, Christmas trees get recycled, the wrapping paper and pretty bows eventually go in the trash. Our families change – the kids grow up, we lose our loved ones, we are not in the same house anymore, income changes, illness, we can’t eat the same Christmas food due to health reasons….
Traditions can deceive us and take our eyes away from what Christmas is really all about. I temporarily lost my focus and the significance of what Christmas is all about because I would not be able to celebrate Christmas in the sentimental way that seemed to spell out the true Christmas spirit – at least according to our culture.
So don’t lose your focus. Keep your eyes on your Savior in every season of your life. The gospel of Luke tells us about Anna, who after becoming a widow dedicated herself to living in the temple, worshipping and fasting. When Anna saw the Christ child for the first time, she became an 84-year-old evangelist. So continue to be rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in your faith. Moms, alongside your traditions, teach your children about Christ. Get past the wrapping paper. Get past finding and decorating the perfect Christmas tree. During Christmas it’s easy for us to be Marthas, busy with the season, but we need to be more like Marys, sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Because you know, Linus was right! The Savior has been born! And that’s what Christmas is all about!
© Copyright 2014 by Rosi Fowler