By Jenny Wall, HopeNet Spiritual Director

I grew up in the 1960s and 70s in a small Kansas community where everyone knew their neighbors and television was black and white. Back then, one of the few jobs available to a teenage girl was babysitting. I really loved babysitting during the Christmas season so I could watch Christmas TV specials with my young wards, as my family did not own a television.

One of my favorite Christmas specials was and still is, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The very first time the show aired was on CBS December 9, 1965. It nearly wasn’t aired, as the “CBS bigwigs” who first viewed it “hated it” for many reasons, according to Bill Nichols in his USA Today article “The Christmas Classic That Almost Wasn’t.” Despite the doubts of those in charge, nearly half of all Americans tuned in for the first airing and loved it. It become a Christmas classic and a holiday staple of many family.

In the movie, Charlie Brown is troubled by the commercial trappings of Christmas. After his friends reject his rather small Christmas tree choice for the Christmas program, he laments, “I guess I don’t know what Christmas is all about.” At that point, the lights grow dim, Linus takes center stage and quotes,

And there were in that 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 to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring 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 angels a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men. (King James Bible, Luke 2:8-14)

Later, Linus finds the rejected little tress, sees the possibilities, and begins to decorate it. The other children join in to complete its transformation into an amazing Christmas tree. This tree becomes a symbol of what Christmas is truly about for Charlie Brown and for all of us: God’s love in the form of a baby, come down to be with us on earth. It is love that brings joy; love that transforms those who seem small and insignificant into individuals full of strength, beauty and love, although sometimes with stops and starts. This is indeed, very good news.

All humans have the need to be loved and to give love. How can you bring God’s love, the Gift of Christmas, to those around you this season? How do you need to experience God’s love for yourself? Here are some suggestions for you to consider:

  • Slow down and reflect on the state of your relationships with others, perhaps as you sit in the light of the Christmas tree. Could they use some expressions of love?
  • Consider what communicates love to your friends and family and provide a small token of that during the season.
  • Attend a Christmas performance of Handel’s Messiah or other Christmas concerts.
  • Attend a Christmas Eve service at a local church.
  • Re-read and reflect on the Christmas story found in the Bible.
  • Consider God’s love for you in providing the Savior, Christ the Lord. Talk to a trusted friend, priest, pastor or clergy if you have questions.

We at HopeNet count it a privilege to provide coaching, counseling, Christian care and training services on a sliding scale. We are here to come alongside you when you need assistance in relationships with others or with God. We wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, one filled with the gift of Christmas, God’s love.