Merry Christmas

Christmastime — ‘the most wonderful time of year’ has again swept us up in all its glittery excitement. There are lots of fun events to check out. And of course there’s the shopping.

Folks whip out credit cards trying to find that elusive, perfect gift for the loved one or friend who has pretty much everything.

In spite of the commercial craziness, many of us swear the next Yuletide will be different. People chat about simplifying things, slowing down, and of finding time to reflect on the joys and blessings of life – family, friends, good health and the country we call home.

But for many, Christmas represents nothing but stress and worry.

Christmas really is the one time of year that seems to magnify the inequalities of society. The marginalized and those struggling to make ends meet appear more alone and worse off.

It’s no surprise then that those who have their attention focused primarily on others are the people who have insight into the meaning and joys of Christmas. And speaking of the meanings of Christmas, the birth of Christ continues to inspire everything from lively theological discourse to vibrant personal faith and the desire to serve. Observing the rich season of advent as Christmas approaches has calming effect, drawing folks back to the heart of the season.

Even Charlie Brown is revitalized by the story in the classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. The special first aired in 1965 and has remained a televised holiday staple ever since.

Touching on the over-commercialization of Christmas, the program gently reminds viewers of the true meaning of Christmas.

It all begins Charlie Brown confiding in his Linus he feels depressed in spite of the growing seasonal excitement. Hoping to generate some enthusiasm in himself, he gets involved in directing a school play about the Nativity.

Turns out, he has to deal with a bunch of uncooperative kids who are more interested in music and dancing. Nonetheless, Charlie Brown is determined to let the traditional side of the story shine through.

But he begins to wonder if he really knows what Christmas is about. Linus says he can tell him, and walks to center stage to make his point. He quotes the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke, verses 8 through 14.

It has a profound effect on the gang. Everyone mellows out and grows more thoughtful as the story proceeds, ending with the gang singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing. They all then joyfully wish Charlie Brown a Merry Christmas. And all is well.

So take some time to consider that very first Christmas, and to lend a helping hand to many who are hurting this holiday season. And have a truly blessed and Merry Christmas.