Every year around the holidays, I love to watch all of the traditional shows and movies to get into the holiday spirit. But every year, there is one Christmas special that always claims the top spot as my favorite: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Despite getting older, I always watch this Christmas special with wide-eyed wonderment and childish giddy. Who doesn’t love adorable Snoopy? Who doesn’t relate to silly ‘ole Charlie Brown?
But as I watched it yet again for this year’s holiday season, I really sat back and noticed just how important the lessons from A Charlie Brown Christmas are. Even though Charlie Brown and his friends first graced our television screens for Christmas in 1965, the story and its lessons remain as timeless as ever.
Here are three lessons that A Charlie Brown Christmas taught me.
The Holidays Aren’t Always the Holly-Jolliest Time of Year for Everyone
The holidays can be a difficult time for a lot of people, including Charlie Brown. While others may be joyful and singing in an Andy Williams-like cheer that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year,” others may be feeling sad and may not be quite in the Christmas mood.
“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel,” Charlie Brown tells Linus. “I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”
The holidays can be lonely for some, perhaps with not a lot of family or friends to surround themselves with, like Charlie Brown.
“Thanks for the Christmas card you sent me, Violet,” Charlie Brown says. “I didn’t send you a Christmas card, Charlie Brown,” Violet replies. “Don’t you know sarcasm when you hear it?” Charlie Brown asks.
But even more so, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is very real and can lead to a lot of people having a “blue” Christmas. SAD doesn’t mean that the person has a lack of holiday spirit, but rather is brought on by a sudden onset of sadness due to the changing weather.
The point is that the holidays aren’t always the holly-jolliest time of year for everyone. And even when Charlie Brown gets involved with the Christmas play, it still doesn’t bring him happiness. Charlie Brown find happiness when he is finally surrounded by friends and love at the end of the Christmas special. So if anything, make sure to spread the love this holiday season to make sure that everyone knows they are cared for and appreciated.
It’s Not About What’s Under or On the Tree that Matters
Charlie Brown teaches us that it’s not about what is under or on the tree that matters, but rather those that are around it. One of the things that Charlie Brown really struggles within the Christmas special is the complete commercialization of Christmas. (And remember that this was even back in 1965!)
Charlie Brown is discouraged by how everyone is all about things. From his little sister, Sally, wanting “tens and twenties” from Santa, to Lucy being ungrateful and upset with all of the awesome gifts she gets every year because she really only wants “real estate,” to Snoopy entering a holiday decorating contest to find the “true meaning of Christmas” by winning “money, money, money,” Charlie Brown is concerned with everyone’s complete disconnect from the true meaning of Christmas.
“Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket,” Lucy even admits to Charlie Brown.
When the group of kids tell Charlie Brown to get an aluminum Christmas tree for the play, which was the “it” Christmas tree during that time, Charlie Brown, displeased by all of the “overly commercialized” trees, decides to pick the only real tree in the entire lot, and takes the little sapling back to the play. After being ridiculed by all the other kids, and even man’s best friend himself, Snoopy, Charlie Brown, frustrated with it all, finally asks aloud if anybody even knows what Christmas is all about. It is at that moment that Linus takes center stage and recites the Annunciation to the shepherds from the Gospel of Luke.
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” Linus says.
Now understanding the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown takes the tree home with him and refuses to not let commercialization ruin Christmas. When all the kids decorate the tree for Charlie Brown, and Lucy comments that he didn’t get such a bad tree, after all, they begin to sing around the tree. It is then that they realize that it’s not about the material things, but about friendship, family, love, joy, and the birth of Christ that really matter at Christmas.
Sure, it’s nice to take part in having some of the latest shiny and pretty things, and there’s nothing wrong in doing so, but what really matters is that we don’t lose sight of the truly important things at Christmastime.
All You Need is Some Heart and Soul at Christmastime
Around the holidays, you don’t always need the big, shiny things to bring joy. Sometimes all you need is the simple things. As long as you put some heart and soul into it, you’ll have everything you need.
When Charlie Brown picked the little sapling from the tree lot, he told Linus, “I don’t care. We’ll decorate it and it’ll be just right for our play. Besides, I think it needs me.” Charlie Brown didn’t need the big, fancy aluminum tree; the small, simple, traditional tree was all he needed, and he knew it would be “just right.”
“I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all really. Maybe it just needs a little love,” Linus said, as the group of friends decorated the tree at the end of the Christmas special. Sometimes all you need is faith, trust, and, er, Christmas dust. Linus knew the value of the little tree and realized that with some tender care the tree would be more than perfect for the group.
So whatever you do this holiday season, do it with love and kindness, and everything will be absolutely perfect.
I hope that you carry these lessons with you during this holiday season. Because “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”