Sunday, December 20, 2009

Where Are You Christmas?

One of my favorite TV specials of the season is A Charlie Brown Christmas. In one scene, Lucy lounges on the end of the Schroeder’s toy piano as he plays one perfectly executed classical tune after another.

Critical as ever, Lucy berates his song repertoire before asking, “Can you play ‘Jingle Bells’?”

As Schroeder begins playing the song in conventional piano style, Lucy cocks an ear to listen only to interrupt moments later: “No, no, I mean ‘Jingle Bells.’ You know, deck them halls and all that stuff?”

Schroeder then plays the same song, this time with the toy piano producing rich sounds of a church organ. True to character, Lucy interrupts again. “No, no. You don’t get it at all. I mean ‘Jingle Bells’ You know, Santa Claus and ho ho ho and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls.”

At this point, Schroeder furrows his pencil eyebrows in irritation as he takes one finger and crudely pecks out the melody on a now plinking, hollow-sounding, toy piano.

Although this is the worst version of the song, Lucy finally recognizes it and shrieks, “That’s it!”

This scene reminds me of so many people I see at Christmas time. Listening, looking, hoping, striving each year to create the perfect Christmas experience; yet, not realizing the true spirit of Christmas is playing loud and clear through the story of the nativity.

And so they stand in long lines and agonize over finding the perfect present for a long list of family and friends. They dress up for smiling Christmas pictures to include in stacks of Christmas cards that must be mailed. They slave hours over a hot stove to bake dozens of cookies and candies for party after party. They endanger their lives to string brightly-colored lights from the rooftops and decorate their houses with trees, tinsel, and holly. Some even travel long distances to visit family.

There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these activities…unless you have bought into the notion that you will find the spirit of Christmas in them.

Sure, most of us have traditions we enjoy keeping. But if we seek to find the meaning of Christmas in traditions, activities, and things, then if something goes wrong, the words “Christmas was ruined because…” might escape your mouth.

When we’re separated from loved ones by death or a snow storm, when we can’t find that perfect gift, when we burn the cookies, when the cat climbs up and destroys the tree---when anything un-perfect happens, the spirit of Christmas lives on…if you’re looking in the right place for it.

The spirit of Christmas is found in the form of a small God-made-flesh child in a lowly manger.

The spirit of Christmas is found in an angel telling a group of frightened shepherds, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

The spirit of Christmas is found in the multitude of angels who burst forth in song for those same shepherds: “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’” (Luke 2:13-14).

The spirit of Christmas is found in the heart of every believer in Christ. As Christ said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17)

If you find yourself with the bah-humbugs this Christmas season, if you just can’t seem to get in the “Christmas spirit,” ask yourself what Christmas spirit you’re trying to find—the world’s version? Or the one found in the Christ child?


  1. I sometimes forget to check out this blog of yours.

    So glad I did tonight. I love Charlie Brown. Peanuts is probably my all time favorite cartoon. I absolutely love those Charlie Brown Christmas and I believe I even posted a short post last year about botched Christmas Carols.

    I love the title you chose.

    I hope that every attempt I make to bring about holiday cheer or the Christmas spirit through any other means than Christ is thwarted.

    It's an awful cycle that is sometimes so hard to break. If we try on our own, that is. In His Presence is fullness of joy.

    Why oh why do I wander from It? Why do I seek out other means of peace and joy? There is on other.

    But Christ alone.

  2. Christmas blessings to you, Jennifer!!! I hope you and your family are wonderfully blessed as you celebrate our Lord's birth!

    Much love,