“For behold. I bring you tidings of great joy, which will be to all people.”
– Linus Van Pelt and the meaning of Christmas, 1965.
Little did the late Charles Schultz know his lovable, animated Peanuts characters in a Charlie Brown Christmas would become one of the more endearing presences in our new-millennium holiday celebration.
But, 50 years out, the cartoon originally created to sell soft drinks – a production roundly criticized by the ad execs of the day prior to the show’s release – looks better than it ever did.
Go shopping anywhere now and you’ll hear Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack burbling from speakers in any community space providing Christmas music that includes all the timeless holiday standards – religious and ecumenical.
The Internet is saturated in snippets like the intro to this editorial; simple snapshots capturing the essence of the holiday spirit. All from a little, 25-minute animated special created 50 years ago that some insisted would not make it past 1966.
Just goes to show how a little can go such a long way. It’s why every little effort Cochrane has put into Christmas this year creates such a lasting and significant impact.
Every can of food placed into the bin at the supermarket, every holiday smile exchanged as we whirl through town knocking items off our lists, every time we forgive someone for doing that annoying something we find bothersome – it all makes a difference and a positive, lasting impression.
All because it’s “that” time of year. It’s Christmas.
Some may find reason to bemoan the dilution of Christmas from a Christian celebration to a more all-inclusive festival not as steeped in its religious roots. For on this day in Bethlehem, a Saviour is born. Jesus Christ the Lord.
Yet growing from that one elementary Christian event, people of all religions and cultures have found a reason to celebrate, share and be kind to one another; to embrace our connection to each other.
Singing carols, sharing meals, lighting candles, exchanging gifts and visiting family and friends are universal symbols of the joy we share at the celebration called Christmas.
These are the seasonal gifts from which everyone can benefit and enjoy. They have inspiration and meaning while strengthening our common bond and helping us break down barriers and open doors to each other’s worlds.
Whether delivered in a seasonal animated television feature or at any of the Christmas services in town, it’s the spirit of the season and all the joy it brings that matter most.
So light that fire in the hearth. Hang that mistletoe. Break out the eggnog. Enjoy everything you do in the company of the people you enjoy doing it with at this time of year.
Let there be peace on Earth and good will toward men.
Happy holidays. Seasons greetings. Merry Christmas.