December 8, 2009

Maybe It's Me: Charlie Brown, or, Glory to God in the Highest!

I can’t help but feel a little bit Charlie Brownish these days.

The older I get the more it seems that the wonder and charm and glory that Christmas is suppose to fill our souls with is too frequently overshadowed by consumerism and commercialism.

The focus of my disappointment isn’t just corporate based, however; I feel like we are some of our worst selves, overcome with self-importance, during the holiday season as well. It baffles me that people can be so consumed with and within themselves that it comes naturally to ignore or look at with contempt those poor souls that stand out in the cold for hours ringing a bell, all to raise money for other people – and that’s only one example of our society’s self-righteousness.

Maybe it’s me, but it’s time to bring back the holiday season with its holy day meaning.

What is Christmas?

I didn’t think it was defined by sparkly, shining, glittering things that make sound and whirl around, the bigger the better of course!; all with the intent of catching people’s attention, because you now have something that other people want.

I didn’t think it was defined by a schedule of who has to be where at what time, about deadlines and following a schedule. About getting the things done on our list of things to do, which includes: giving to those less fortunate, putting up the decorations, buying the tree, baking the cookies, sending out the Christmas cards, picking up the relatives, going to church, eating the cookies, dropping off the relatives, throwing the tree away, taking the decorations down, and throwing in a couple of New Year’s Resolutions, too.

I didn’t think Christmas was about multi-million dollar companies playing on our every emotion to make us need some material thing we didn’t want a month ago, won’t need a month from now, but in this very moment have to have it. In this frightening economy you’d think the overwhelming advertisements would be slightly less aggressive, and yet they actually seem worst. I don’t have money. Even if you’re company is running a buy one, get one half off deal, guess what? I still don’t have money. Nothing’s changed.

We live in this overwhelmingly fast-paced society now where everybody has something to do somewhere. This is especially true during the holiday season. We truly forget to stop and look around and take in the fact that, hey, we’re not celebrating the fact that we get a few days off from work; we’re not celebrating discounts and promo codes; we’re not celebrating lights on a tree or eggnog in our glasses.

We’re celebrating the birth of a man two thousand years ago who inevitably gave his life for us.

Why aren’t we embracing our families and friends and thanking the good Lord that we are blessed with such wonderful people in our lives?

Why aren’t we bowing our heads in complete humbleness for all that we have been given throughout the year?

Why can’t we be satisfied with what we have now, and pray that we will continue to be as fortunate throughout the next year?

Why can’t we just stop and say a little prayer for those who are less fortunate than us or are spending their first holiday season without someone very special to them?

And why can’t, in the smallest of respectful gestures, take one moment, one single moment of life to look up and admire that heavenly northern star the burns so brightly?

That magic that fills the air on Christmas morning doesn’t come from brightly colored packages, or large turkeys from shiny ovens, or from the freshly fallen glittering snow.

That magic comes from three kings traveling a great distance all to humbly bow before some newborn. That magic comes from angels heralding a new age, while an infant cooed in His mother’s arm. That magic comes from that babe.

Who changed the world.

And that’s the magic we should be letting radiate from the very depths of our being.

"And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings o great joy, which shall be to all my 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, and good will toward men.’”

And that’s the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.