Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Charlie Brown Christmas

My Christmas tree this year reminds me of the Christmas tree in one of my favorite holiday specials. In the classic holiday television special “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, Charlie Brown is dismayed and depressed by the over-commercialization of Christmas and struggles to find the real meaning of Christmas. Charlie Brown visits Lucy’s psychiatry booth and she suggests that he direct the school play.

To set the proper mood for the production, Charlie Brown picks the only real tree on the lot—a poor little sapling.

My Christmas tree is artificial this year. I love real Christmas trees. Usually six feet tall or more. I love the aroma of a real tree. I enjoy pulling out the Christmas ornaments—memories of Christmas past--and decorating the tree. I love the lights and putting the candy canes on the boughs and the star on top. We bought an artificial tree when my husband had a fellowship at the University of Michigan because we were living in family housing and the campus didn’t allow real trees for the holidays. But my artificial tree was still about six feet.

This summer, my basement flooded and the artificial tree went out with a host of other things in my basement that were submerged. I couldn’t transport a real tree this year so I set out, like Charlie Brown, to find an artificial one.

I waited a bit too late for my quest , the best tree I could find, without paying an arm and a leg or spending more time or energy than I wanted, was a four-foot artificial one at WalMart.
When I got home and set it up my daughter measured it, certain that it couldn’t really be four feet tall. It looked so tiny. My son kept saying, “It’s so little” which prompted  the lecture--similar to the children are starving in this world speech.

 “There’s a kid somewhere who wishes they had any kind of tree,” I said.

We decorated our little tree like the Peanuts characters loved on their little sapling, transforming it into a beautiful tree but more importantly, understanding what Christmas is really about. We put it up on a stand to give it some height. Pulled out the Christmas decorations and placed the star on top.

I love my little tree because it reminds me that Christmas isn’t about the tree.

 It’s about the baby. It’s about the baby who would one day die upon a tree for me.

It’s not about spending money, going into debt or stressing while shopping for the “perfect” gift. It’s about the greatest gift. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…”

It’s about being in His presence, not the presents under the tree. It’s about showing love to people and appreciating family and friends. It’s about my son giving the cashier at Walgreens a box of candy he bought with his own money for someone else but right at the checkout line handing it to her after he heard us having a conversation about her having to work on Christmas. The surprise and joy in her face. Priceless.

So this Christmas will be a very Charlie Brown Christmas for me, enjoying the lights, sights and sounds of the season, but focused on the Good News of our Savior’s birth as Linus quoted on the special:
“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 towards men.
...That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

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