Here at the Florence house, it isn’t officially Christmas until the Charlie Brown Christmas tree, adorned with one red ball and surrounded by Chuck, Snoopy, and all the Peanuts Gang, is sitting on the mantle. I’ve always been a huge fan of that blockhead and his beloved canine. The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas is in our car CD player and the animated Christmas classic is still an all-time favorite. What you may not know is that CBS almost didn’t air the Christmas special.
Peanuts creator Charles Schultz had a meeting with Lee Mendelson, the show’s producer, and Bill Melendez, the lead animator. At that time, only 9% of Christmas episodes and programs contained spiritual references. Therefore, the two men were very concerned with the scene in which Linus answers Charlie Brown’s question of, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” by reading the King James version of Luke 2:8-14. Melendez told Schultz that it was very dangerous to talk about religion “Bill, if we don’t, who will?” Schultz countered. On December 9th, 1965, CBS aired the special, exactly like Schultz had planned with the Bible passage included. It became the second most watched show of the week. Today, decades later, it is still being loved by both children and adults.
PEBBLES THROWN IN THE WATER
I read an article earlier this week about Charles Schultz. Schultz, who died in 2000, is the 3rd top earning deceased celebrity. His comic strip was extremely faith based. In fact, more that 560 of Schultz’s 17,800 strips contain scriptural references. The article noted that 61 of the strips feature Lucy pulling the football away as Chuck tries to kick it. Schultz, a Sunday school teacher, wanted to tackle issues that made a difference. “Little things we say and do in Christ’s name are like pebbles thrown into the water,” Schultz once said. “The ripples spread out in circles and influence people we may know only slightly and sometimes not at all.” And to think that Schultz’s boldness of faith is still impacting people today.
IF WE DON’T, WHO WILL?
It seems that more and more that religious freedom is under attack. In fact, just yesterday there was an article about a nurse at a middle school in Texas who was asked to take down her Charlie Brown Christmas poster because it had the words of Luke 2 written on it. God sacrificed His son, to save us from our sins and it is our job to spread that Good News. Just like Charles Schultz asked Bill Melendez in 1965, “If we don’t talk about it, who will?” The best gift we can give someone is to introduce them to Christ. Maybe we invite someone to Christmas Eve service, send them a card, or just share the following passage:
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 good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 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. – Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”