I was five years old when ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ aired on television for the first time. Like many families, we’ve watched Linus, Lucy, Pig-Pen, Sally, Snoopy, Schroeder, and Charlie Brown discover together the true meaning of Christmas every December since. In my parent’s family, we’d wait anxiously for TV Guide to reveal the date and time of the broadcast, making sure we were home plenty early to turn on the set, wait for the bulbs to warm up, and fiddle with the rabbit-ear antenna to bring to the screen the brightest, clearest picture possible. Then, we would settle down in front of the TV to watch…riveted.
Today, we have ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ on VHS (yes, VHS still), DVD, and on-demand from Amazon Prime and Netflix. My children have never had to wait for programming, and laugh at the notion that you had to be in front of the TV at a certain time on a certain day or you’d miss out. They have never seen a TV guide.
Perhaps what we loved most about ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ was the sureness it brought to hear, year after year, Linus explain the true meaning of Christmas, taken from the second chapter of Luke. It was from this reading that, as a child, I memorized those familiar lines, “and there were in the same country, shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night…” I admired the way Linus Van Pelt stepped bravely forward, alone on the stage, to boldly recite the story of the Savior’s birth. It wasn’t until recently that I noticed something I hadn’t in all the years before; In the middle of speaking, at the exact moment he says the words, “fear not”, Linus drops his blanket.
Anyone familiar with Linus knows that although thoughtful and intelligent, he is best known for his ever-present security blanket. Throughout ‘Peanuts’, Lucy, Sally, Snoopy, and the others work to no avail to separate Linus from it. Even though his blanket remains a source of ridicule and derision, he is simply too insecure to give it up. Until the moment he proclaims, “fear not, for behold, I bring 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.” Linus continues his story to the end, and then silently picks up his blanket and walks off the stage.
Each year as I watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ now, I ponder the genius of Charles Schultz. The dropping of Linus’ blanket as he recites the Christmas story is no accident. Schultz, a deeply religious man, had found a simple yet brilliant way to teach us that “The birth of Jesus separates us from our fears. The birth of Jesus frees us from habits we are unable to break by ourselves. The birth of Jesus allows us to drop the false security we have been grasping so tightly, and trust and cling to Him instead.”
The love of God separates us from fear which in its simplest form is the absence of love. The good tidings of great joy the angel heralded so long ago, were that man need no longer live in the darkness of fear but in the glorious light of love…God’s perfect love. A love that is bigger than any fear and strong enough to overcome even the worst of sin and error. Everyone has faults, commits errors, sins, and shudders at times with fear, but Christ came to bring us hope. Not to condemn us, but to love us without ceasing and to patiently help us along the path to happiness, confidence, security, and love. That is the good news of Christmas, and that is why Linus dropped his blanket.
As you soon step out onto the stage of a new year, consider an insecurity, fear, or weakness you can drop at the feet of the Savior and move forward in faith, confident in the power of His love and trusting in the sureness of His infinite redemption. As you do so, I’m confident you’ll discover other wonders the Lord has written into the story of your life.
Marc K. Ensign