How to Have Yourself a Little Charlie Brown Christmas (About Fears, Heartbreak & Hard Divisiveness at Christmas)
There’s a bunch of kids here, sloshy with hot-chocolate, who just keep playing a Charlie Brown Christmas.
And yeah, I’m not ashamed — so what if it took me a few takes? Because when I finally saw it, I was entirely taken:
Only when Linus retells the Christmas story and repeats what the angel announces, “Fear not!” — does Linus drop his blanket for the first time.
And I choke it back and swig down more of my frothy, chocolatey mug.
The first message of Christmas is ‘fear not.’
The birth of Jesus — banishes our fears.
Maybe the Christmas Spirit is about letting go of our security blankets.
Maybe the Christmas Spirit is letting go of the security of masquerading perfection — to be secure in a perfect Messiah who saves us from our mess.
Because the Spirit of Christmas releases us from the fear of scarcity — and gives us the security of abundance.
Moves us from the fear of not enough grace, not enough means, not enough us —- to the security of more than enough to give — because we’ve been given Him.
“We talk glibly of the “Christmas spirit,” rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But . . . [the Christmas Spirit] ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of Him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas,” writes the fine man of the Old Book, J.I. Packer.
“It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians… go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit…
For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor––spending and being spent––to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others — and not just their own friends —– in whatever way there seems need.” J.I. Packer
The Christmas Spirit is about having the same spirit of Christ.
‘For God so loved the world — He gave.’ Love lives given.
The Christmas Spirit isn’t about getting gifts — as much getting to be the Gift.
Be the Gift of grace, of peace, of hope, of reconciliation.
Maybe the Christmas Spirit is letting go of the security of being right, the security of being distant, the security of holding certain people at arm’s length.
Once, on a Christmas evening, under this comforting blanket of stars poking through the dark, I threw open the door of our beat-up Ford and I took that first step toward a door that had been long shut, and it felt terrifying and terribly freeing, and maybe we only win our battles when we lose our need to be right.
I hadn’t been there in years. I have no idea how long it had been since her and I had talked with any kind of warmth.
The Christmas Spirit is about having the same spirit of Christ. Love lives given.
Every slow step toward her door, the snow crunched, like bitterly cold things that have long stung, could be crushed, giving way to amazing grace.
I’m telling you —
Sometimes you want to turn your back when a relationship gets hard — but you want to face freedom more.
Sometimes you want to continue your cold war — but you want to be part of peace on earth and in your heart more.
Sometimes every step toward peace with someone — is a journey of a million heartaches within you.
But if He can take a journey of a million light years to meet us in the stench of our manger mires — to make peace with us —-we can take one step after another and make peace across the aisle, the street, the table.
The spirit of Christmas — is about not having a spirit of fear.
I knocked kinda feeble on her door, willing the other hand holding a gift for her not to stiffen so tense, and she opened that door and sometimes when we break into a smile, some of the pain breaks, and we breathe.
Angels still speak — and to us:
Do not fear — even here.
You can let go of the security blankets — He who comes, makes you secure.
I reached out my arms — and she reached out hers.
And it can happen: That Big Dipper tips over all of us and pours out the Christmas Spirit, and our spirits can come home for Christmas.
She handed me a plate of her pecan pie and we talked by the tree and it wasn’t Hallmark perfect but it was perfectly honest and imperfectly real and all tasted like a slice of heaven to me and I could feel it:
Maybe the Christmas Spirit is letting go — to let the Spirit move.
Maybe the Christmas Spirit — is about letting the Spirit heal you.
Maybe the Christmas Spirit —- means: Reconcile for Christmas.
I exhaled when I wrote it on a piece of paper here, taped it up over the little Christmas tree right there at the sink, and it felt like a kind of healing:
Let go of Plan A — Go with ‘Plan Be.’
Fear not! Even now, it’s okay to let go of the security blankets — and go with “Plan Be.”
Plan Be — lets this Christmas just be about being, and it lets other people just be.
When you let other people just be — and don’t try change even one of their heart beats — you become a safe place for your people. The Spirit of Christmas is about letting His Spirit do the changing — in all the people and us.
Simply asking how someone’s heart really is — is the gift every heart really wants most.
Plan Be this Christmas — chooses to simply Be Present.
Be present to the moment as it is, to people as they are, to God with us now, Emmanuel.
Be present — and fear not. This is the gift you can have any moment.
Be present to broken hearts — because this is how you give your heart to Jesus.
The kids and I wrap up presents for those who live across fences, across aisles, across the world. The Christmas spirit only asks you to Be Present. Give yourself the gift of God.
Steam rises from hot chocolate mugs before the fire.
Live Plan Be: Be Present — Be the Gift.
We could all come home to each other for Christmas in all kinds of creative ways.
Heard the weather forecast this morning say they’re calling for a white Christmas.
Let it be, let it be, let it be.
What more could any of us want than a little Charlie Brown Christmas of letting go?
To let God come.
Come let Jesus touch your wounds & heal your hurt with His Peace.
This Advent, Stay in the Story that the rest of your year, your family, will need.
3 Award-Winning books for the Whole Family
- The Greatest Gift (adult edition): Christian Retailing’s Best award, 2014
- Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (Family Edition): Best Inspirational Book of the Year, CBA, 2016
- The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: Best Devotional & Gift Book of the Year, CBA, 2019, (pop-up edition with your own 14 inch tree, 25 days of readings, 25 day advent flap calendar, hiding all 25 Biblically inspired ornaments! For any age)
Peace leads us — and we have ourselves The Greatest little Christmas yet!