Cynthia L. Eppley 12/19/2021
It’s that time of year. We lay awake at night going through lists in our heads—checking it twice. This is not reviewing who is naughty or nice— it is because we don’t want to forget anything. And how do I know this to be true?
Because so many share this on social media.
There is so much to remember.
Between last minute runs to the store, Christmas cards, and decorating? It is enough to exhaust us.
Sick and Tired
All this hype for the holiday can make us run down and sick. And it does take a toll. Years ago, I could count on getting a cold as a result of pre-holiday stress. And there were many like me.
To be blunt: it was exhaustion from my own expectations to have “A Perfect Christmas.”
(I might add, this no longer happens.)
A Culture in Review
Just look at the influences on us:
Ads on TV
if you were to believe the ads, you would think everyone is home for Christmas. “Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow” are healthy and happy.
Cars arrive with a giant bow on top.
Everyone has a “White Christmas.”
Why, there is even a car commercial for it!
“As a desert-dwelling family drives back home, they’re in for an unusual surprise. They are greeted with snow, although the artificial kind, in front of their home—an unexpected sight for someone living in a dry climate surrounded by palm trees. Lincoln Motor Company longs for you to experience something extraordinary along with the power of sanctuary during its Wish List event.”
Of course, the car takes center stage.
This all pulls at our heart strings as we reflect on what Christmas could be; never mind that Dad has been busy creating the blanket of snow with a snow machine perched precariously on top of the house.
Perhaps Christmas movies open a window to our deepest longings; and why we enjoy them, laugh uproariously, and repeat the lines in advance.
“National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” skewers many of our dearest traditions. From the perfect tree to the perfect dinner, nothing seems to go right for Clark Griswold. And we laugh at him and with him as we see ourselves. He just wants to have the “Perfect family Christmas.”
Christmas with the Kranks
The Kranks decide to skip Christmas one year since their daughter is away, much to the chagrin of their neighbors—until their daughter decides to come home at the last minute. Hilarity ensues as carolers torment them. They “must have” a ham, not just any ham, mind you, but a “Mel’s Hickory Honey Cooked, Boneless, Skinless ham with natural Juices and Gelatin Added.” “Borrowing” a neighbor’s tree, and the perfect chocolate—again, we laugh at them and with them as we see ourselves striving to make all things right.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
Created in 1965, this animated show has won our hearts.
“Feeling down about the commercialism of Christmas, Charlie Brown becomes the director of the gang’s holiday play. Can he overcome his friends’ preference for dancing over acting, find the “perfect” tree, and discover the true meaning of Christmas?” Even his “Charlie Brown” tree has become a symbol of frustration. He exclaims in frustration: “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?”
And then there is Linus: His blue blanket goes with him everywhere. It is his “security blanket” and he must have it. Always.
He clings to it for reassurance and the others taunt him by taking it and running.
His role in the film is to remind all the meaning of Christmas and so he answers Charlie Brown by quoting Luke 2: 8-14:
“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 unto you good 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, good will toward men.’
That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
But there is so much more to this scene.
An article released in 2015 explains this for us:
“In that climactic scene when Linus shares what “Christmas is all about,” he drops his security blanket, and I am now convinced that this is intentional. Most telling is the specific moment he drops it: when he utters the words “fear not.”
Looking at it now, it’s pretty clear what Charles Schulz was saying through this, and it’s so simple it’s brilliant.
The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears.
The birth of Jesus frees us from the habits we are unable (or unwilling) to break ourselves.
The birth of Jesus allows us to simply drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and learn to trust and cling to him instead.
The world of 2015 can be a scary place, and most of us find ourselves grasping to something temporal for security, whatever that thing may be. Essentially, 2015 is a world in which it is very difficult for us to “fear not.”
But in the midst of fear and insecurity, this simple cartoon image from 1965 continues to live on as an inspiration for us to seek true peace and true security in the one place it has always been and can always still be found.
It is inspiring that a simple cartoon about Charlie Brown has withstood the test of time. It still resonates with young and old alike.
And in 2021, just like 2015, and 1965, the world can be a scary place.
What do we grasp?
Fear Not How can we “fear not?”
Maybe the meaning of the blanket holds the key:
As we strive for “The Perfect Christmas,” we find that we can’t find the right ham, or the right tree, or the right gift.
Depending on where you live, you may never have a White Christmas.
Like Linus, perhaps we need to give up our aspirations that bind us to impossible goals. Perhaps we need to drop our striving and find new meanings in this changing world of 2021. And perhaps, we may find our security in more than a blanket, holiday, tradition, and ritual. Let us find our Rest in Him.