George Dunlap, 12/14/2020: My favorite Christmas short is. A Charlie Brown Christmas, released December 9, 1965, I was 10 and in the throws of a childhood Christmas overload. I would go on to watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ till today. It allows me to go back to the days of childhood Christmas Joy, I would always set up, when, Linus tells us all the true meaning of Christmas.
By Clemente Lisi – December 10, 2020
Religion Unplugged believes in a diversity of well-reasoned and well-researched opinions. This piece reflects the views of the author and does not necessarily represent those of Religion Unplugged, its staff and contributors.
(OPINION) There were many things in my home growing up that were part of my family’s Christmas tradition. Like millions of Americans, we had a tree in the living room, adorned with lights and ornaments. As Catholics, we had a nativity creche under that tree. While my sister and I loved the decorations and traditions, what was on TV was a big part of the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.
My sister and I watched all the holiday specials in the 1980s. From Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Jack Frost, we’d grab our hot chocolate and marshmallows and clad in our pajamas, we’d sit and watch these holiday cartoons.
The one common thread these specials had was that they were for everyone. And for everyone, I mean Christians and non-Christians alike. While they were about Christmas, they had zero religious content to them. In the world of Frosty and Rudolph, Christmas was a celebration that included everything (Santa Claus, presents and snow) but Jesus. That made for a more inclusive audience, allowing millions of non-Christians, agnostics and even atheists to enjoy these shows.
Not all of Christmas specials functioned this way. A Charlie Brown Christmas, for example, remains a perpetual holiday favorite since it first premiered on Dec. 9, 1965 on CBS. In this TV special, Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite all the commercial holiday cheer (yes, Christmas was commercial even as far back as the ‘60s) around him. Lucy suggests he direct a neighborhood Christmas play — but his efforts are largely ignored. In the process, Charlie Brown buys a pathetic tree and is mocked even further by the Peanuts gang.
Something truly magical happens near the end of the 30-minute special when Charlie Brown asks — shouts! — what the true meaning of Christmas is. Instead of more commercialism, Linus sets his friend — and everyone else — straight by delivering this truly important message:
“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 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, and goodwill toward men.”