Time once again for a holiday television spectacular! All the Christmas specials are already beginning to run. They have for the past week also. A select group of U.S. stations traditionally specialize in Christmas gems – such as CBS for animated specials, TMC for movies, or ABC Family for the big mix of movies, specials and animated tales. As usual, stay tuned to TBS for a full 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon, as well as the traditional showing of the popular Christmas classic, It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve on NBC. Last night they ran for the first time “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” That’s one of my favorites. It will probably run several times during the next month. I hope so.

Charlie Brown has the blues. His head’s down and he carries his usual forlorn look. This time it’s because he “just doesn’t know what Christmas is all about.” Lucy tells him it’s about getting presents; his sister, Sally, says it’s about Santa Claus; Snoopy thinks it’s about winning the neighborhood lights and display contest. Even the Christmas pageant turns into a dance-a-thon, with all the kids complaining about their parts. One proposal is that Christmas must have something to do with a Christmas tree, a big artificial tree. But all this celebration only leaves Charlie Brown more miserable. Eventually he cries out in despair, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” I’ve been asking the same question for some time now and it seems every Christmas I ask it again. I forget sometimes because of the hustle and bustle of life. TomThatcher writes, “When we look around and see what Christmas means in our culture, we’re often forced to ask the same question. Even in Japan, a country where there never have been many Christians, Christmas is celebrated with decorations and parties and presents as a commercial holiday. In many ways it’s hard to see how things are any different where we live. Did Jesus come so that we could celebrate His birthday with expensive cards and presents and parties? And, honestly, do we really need Jesus to have Christmas, or would it be just as much fun without Him?”

I understand that the first Christmas (1965 – the year I graduated from High School) Charles Schulz insisted that the TV special ended with an explanation of the true meaning of Christmas. It barely made it past the censors, but since he would not allow it to air without it, we get Linus’ famous reading of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. He begins, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field.” Then, after quoting the rest of Luke 2:8–14, he says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.’” That’s what Christmas is all about and no matter what occurs in all the other TV specials, don’t you forget it!