‘And a little child shall lead them’

Editor’s note: At the request of our readers, we are pleased to reprint this column originally published on Dec. 7, 2014.

Like many of us, I sometimes am overwhelmed with the holidays — the commercialism, the holiday parties, gifts, wrapping paper, ornaments, Christmas cards, light displays, giant air-filled Santas and snowmen.

But now and again, it takes the voice of a child to point us in the right direction — to share the true meaning of Christmas.

The other night, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired on television and what can only be described as a poignant moment for me as a child, and still today as an adult, was Linus’ speech about what Christmas is all about.

He recited part of the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2:8-14:

Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus: Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights please?

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 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.

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

And for a few moments, the rest of the Peanuts gang forgot about the Christmas play they were trying to put on or about finding the perfect tree.

This animated Christmas show may be 50 years old, but its message, just like the one written more than 2,000 years ago, is at the heart of what this season is all about.

When I was in Ottumwa, the newspaper printed some letters to Santa from young children on what they wanted for Christmas.

While many listed Barbie dolls and video games, there were a couple of letters that stood out.

Receiving presents was not an issue to one child, rather having his father home from Afghanistan was far more important. Or the letter from another child thanking Santa for being able to celebrate Christmas early because Dad was going to be gone on Dec. 25.

These children’s voices, not unlike the cartoon character of Linus, offer reason and a bit of sanity for the rest of us caught up in the chaos of the holidays.

You need not be religious to understand that the origins of Christmas are a far cry from what it has become.

So how do you define this holiday season?

Ask a child, look in their eyes, and you’ll discover the true meaning of what Christmas is all about.

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com