Homebodies - Love one another as I have loved you


By Rita Friesen

Most of us catch the meaning of ‘a Charlie Brown’ Christmas tree. We grew up watching the Christmas special and understand that the beauty is in being loved not in how we look! The Charlie Brown Christmas special is the longest running cartoon special in history– 49 consecutive years! 

Back in 1963 Lee Mendelson shot a documentary on Charles Schulz, featuring a clip of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. No one in the industry wanted it. Then in 1965 Peanuts made the cover of Time and an advertising agent for Coca-Cola approached Mendelson asking for a Christmas special. Mendelson was not about to lose the opportunity and said he had one ready to go, rushed back and conspired with Schultz and thus was born the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. 

Schultz was adamant that the program would contain the true Christmas story and though it was created in California, there would be skating and snow. Television executives hated it from the start. The show was: too religious (Linus recites Luke2: 8-14); featured contemporary jazz (not popular with children’s shows); had no laugh track; and used the voices of real children, except for Snoopy. Audiences, however, loved the show and it ranked right up there with Bonanza! 

It is interesting that the Coca-Cola company was involved with the Charlie Brown special. An article in ‘The United Church Observer’ – ‘Why is Christmas Still Such a Big Deal?’ states “ The Christmas we know in these early years of the 21st century owes rather more to culture than to Christ. For this we can thank three influences: Charles Dickens and his beloved fable A Christmas Carol ; Clement Moore’s poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas; and the good folks at Coca-Cola, with their now iconic image of the jolly old elf.”  

Prior to the 19th century, the holiday was more than a festival of lights to brighten the darkness of the solstice. By the time these short dark days surround us we need cause to celebrate the lengthening sunlight hours! Many of our holiday celebrations are borrowed form other cultures and times. And while some Christians have grown weary of the commercialism and debate about the correct form of holiday greeting, many non-Christians delight in the traditions, legends and decorations. And among us, always, are those individuals lost in the pain of loss, loneliness and the stress of forced joyfulness. 

There are among us, friends and family, feeling very much like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, longing to be loved, not for how we look or feel, simply loved as we are. And that is the essence of the message that Jesus taught, “love one another as I have loved you”. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.” Merry Christmas.