Most of us are probably familiar with the iconic cartoon “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” in which Charlie Brown repeatedly laments over the commercialization of Christmas. I understand where he is coming from, and I share his longing for Christmas, as well as many areas of modern life, to take on more of the simplicity it ought to have. I wish Christmas could just be a simple season of giving and receiving, of celebrating with the family and friends we have been blessed with and fondly remembering those who are no longer with us. Christmas, of all things, ought to be simple, and yet, for most of us, it is one of the most stressful times of the year. It’s funny, now, to think back on Charlie Brown’s words. I can’t help but chuckle when I think about the fact that this cartoon was made in 1965, a time when the world was simpler when Christmas was more meaningful. What would Charlie Brown think about Christmas in 2017? What would he think about a day we used to call Thanksgiving, now being known only as “The day before Black Friday?” What would he think about people being trampled in pursuit of a good deal, about Christmas decorations in stores in September and news reports that seem to suggest that the holiday season is little more than an indicator of America’s economic health? I’m pretty sure I know what he would say, “Blech!!! Commercialism!” as he buries his enormous bald head in his tiny little hands.
In 1 Corinthians 13:13, the Apostle Paul writes, “So now faith, hope, and love abide…but the greatest of these is love.” That new iPod is not going to endure. That big screen TV – maybe you’ll get six or seven years out of it if you’re lucky – but only faith, hope, and love will endure. People, relationships, time spent loving and being loved, these are the things that matter; helping someone who can’t help themselves, someone who can offer you nothing in return, this is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
So, what can we do in response to this overwhelming commercial machine that Christmas has become? I’d like to suggest a simple alternative. Don’t boycott, don’t complain, don’t just blog about it or write an article about it, join the silent revolution. There are hundreds of charities all around the world that are doing all kinds of things to help people who can’t help themselves. From organizations like World Vision and Compassion international who are the front lines of the global food and water crises, providing basic necessities for people on the brink of starvation, to Open Doors who are working to free those in other countries who are in prison because of their religious convictions, to The International Justice Mission who are working to end the global slave trade, and everything in between. These organizations – and hundreds of others – have Christmas gift catalogs where people can buy a gift in someone’s name and give a real tangible expression of love to someone who may never have experienced love before. Like the Christmas a few years ago I bought my wife a goat for a family in Africa who had nothing.
My suggestion is that we all commit to giving up one Christmas present this year. After all, how many pairs of Christmas socks do you actually need? Instead, I would suggest that we each ask someone in our lives to give a gift in our name to someone in need, to help someone who can’t help themselves, someone who will never be able to repay us. I think that would make Charlie Brown, and more importantly, Almighty God smile a little bit more about this Christmas season.