When we entered hour three at the dinner table, the discussion turned to the following question: If you woke up tomorrow morning to find that there was only one Christmas movie or tv show left in existence, which one would you want it to be? After we exhausted the obligatory love-hate debate over It's a Wonderful Life, nearly everyone at the table - young and not-so young - settled on the same answer: A Charlie Brown Christmas.
This 1965 animated television special is based on the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz and is a classic known to many. It has a thoughtful story line, complete with delightful interactions among the characters and a one-of-a-kind musical score by the late great Vince Guaraldi.
There is one scene in A Charlie Brown Christmas special that seems to strike a chord with everyone, albeit in different ways. It's when Charlie Brown, frustrated with his seeming inability to get anything right with the Christmas pageant he has been charged with directing, asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about. His friend Linus calmly strides forward to center stage and offers the following memorable reply and passage from the King James Bible version of Luke 2:8-14:
Linus: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
"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 unto 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 Savior, 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.'"
That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
It is a wonderful moment in a story filled with memorable scenes, including the semi-miraculous restoration of the now famous Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Of course, the real miracle lies in Linus's response to Charlie Brown's question: Christmas is all about Jesus. The beauty of the passage (one that Schulz had to fight with the producers to keep in the script) lies in its ability to capture so much of what we know is truly important and amazing about the Christmas season. Don't be afraid. Be joyful. Give without condition, receive graciously, and embrace a closer relationship with God and with each other.
There are many gifts to be thankful for this Christmas. Being a part of this amazing Holy Cross family is one. Let me therefore extend this Christmas wish to the entire Holy Cross High School family: May you always hear Linus's reminder of what Christmas is all about, no matter the time of year. Rejoice in Jesus's birth. And enjoy all the blessings and joy that this beautiful season has to offer.
Dr. Thomas C. Pellegrino, President, Holy Cross High School