Summary: In this message we look at what Christmas is not all about using the cast from Charlie Brown's Christmas as illustrations.
Wow, it’s been fifty years. Sure doesn’t seem like it. December 9th will be the 50th anniversary of the first showing of Charlie Brown Christmas. And while most of us grew up watching the animated special there were a number of hesitations about the show when it was aired. As a matter of fact, for the sponsor and the network all they were kind of hoping was that it wouldn’t be a complete disaster, and they would be able to shelve it and hopefully people would forget all about it.
And maybe you are wondering what the problem was. It wasn’t a problem; it was a multitude of problems. When Coca Cola and CBS first started the project they were visualizing a little light hearted animated Christmas special with laugh tracks and secular themes. Instead they ended up with this melancholy tale complete with jazz music, what kid listens to jazz? And a reading from the King James Version of the Bible.
Peanuts creator Charles Shultz insisted that no laugh track be used, in the meeting Shultz said “The network should let the people at home enjoy the show at their own speed, in their own way” and then he walked out of the room ending the argument. Sounds like Schulz had a little bit of Lucy in him that day.
Shultz also refused to use adult actors for the voices and instead he cast neighbourhood children for the parts to preserve the innocence but also to make it a little funnier and edgier. One snag was that some of the kids were so young they couldn’t read and had to be fed their parts line by line. The only adult voice used was for Snoopy.
But in spite of their worst fears Charlie Brown Christmas has become an enduring part of the Christmas Season. How many folks here have watched the Charlie Brown Christmas at some point in their life?
And the entire show comes down to the question asked by Charlie Brown “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
And over the next few weeks we will be looking at: What Christmas is all About, but today we are going to look at some of the answers given in the movie, because that was what was frustrating to Charlie Brown, what he was hearing from the others.
And even fifty years later I think we can find a snapshot of society in the cast of Charlie Brown’s Christmas.
For Snoopy Christmas is all about Christmas It doesn’t take long for us to discover that Snoopy is a big Christmas fan, he seems to love Christmas, but what he really loves is the idea of Christmas.
He loves all the hoopla and the excitement, the lights and the glitz. Snoopy would be right at the curb for the parade of lights, and be first in line to see the Christmas tree lit in Grand Parade. And we all know people like Snoopy.
My sister decorates for Christmas at Halloween, and then she dresses up as Mrs. Santa Claus and hands out candy canes to the trick or treaters while Christmas music plays in the background.
There is a lady who works at Tim Hortons who is obsessed with Christmas, I’m sure if you went in on March 17 and asked her she could tell you how many days it is until Christmas, and she talks about trees and lights, gifts and meals but that’s where it ends. I’ve invited her out to our Christmas services and she’s not interested, I think they would interfere with the celebrations.
For her Christmas is all about the holiday and family and food. And those aren’t bad things, but they aren’t what Christmas is all about.
For too many folks a Holy Day has simply become a holiday, and we have lots of holidays to pick from.
You can have a day off on Thanksgiving, or Labour Day or Canada Day. And along with the holiday comes the opportunity to spend the time with family and with family comes food. It’s like church: There’s no meeting without eating.
But you can have burgers on Canada Day and Ham on Easter and if you are a big turkey fan, that’s what Thanksgiving is for, you really don’t need Christmas.
And it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype of Christmas without understanding what Christmas is all about.
Jesus came to give you eternal life, not a holiday.
In contrast to Snoopy we see Lucy and For Lucy Christmas is all about the Effort. Lucy is so wrapped up in making sure that everything is just right for Christmas she misses Christmas. She’s organizing the Christmas play, is responsible for finding the perfect tree and even needs to find time to help Charlie Brown get into the Christmas spirit.