Matt and I had Children's Worship duty this morning at church, so we were in the Sunday School Classroom/ Children's Library with eight very wiggly children. Part of me thought that I might be able to settle them enough to read a story, so I searched the bookshelves for some Christmas stories. I pulled out what I found and made a stack, but by that time the boys had started a game of indoor soccer and the two girls were drawing. No one was crying or fighting, so I thought I should leave well enough alone and maybe read the books another time.
I did find a gem among the books I gathered, though. The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas: 50 Years of Holiday Comics! came home with us and I started reading it to Isaac during dinner this evening. We made it through the first two decades before Isaac finished his grilled cheese sandwich and are saving the other thirty years for another time. We both chuckled at various comics collected in the book.
At some point this season we will watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and Linus' speech will move me close to tears as it does every time. I will hum along with "Hark the Herald Angels" sing at the end and marvel again at how succinctly Schulz was able to sum up the message of this holiday.
Many of the cartoons we have read so far in the first twenty years of the collection blend the secular and the spiritual aspects of what is Christmas in America. And, while they point a finger toward what has become gross over consumption and the commercialization of the day, they also bring out the wonder and innocence of what it means to be a child at Christmas-time -- the anxiousness of wondering what Santa will bring, the Christmas plays and pageants in which children play the stunned shepherds or the awe-inspiring angels, the excitement of waiting for it to finally arrive.
I guess Christmas would come without Charlie Brown and his gang, but having them around reminds me to put away my wallet, not worry about how the tree looks, and think about where and how it all started. That's a message that doesn't become out-dated.