What are some of the words - and their meanings - we will hear this Christmas season?
PEACE - friendship, harmony, tranquility, repose
JOY - rejoicing, pleasure, happiness, delight
GIVING - benevolence, voluntary, blessing
FELIZ NAVIDAD - (Spanish) Merry Christmas
NATIVITY - the process or circumstance of being born, birth
HOLIDAYS - vacation, festival, celebration, recreation, amusement
NOEL - (Latin-natalis) birth, (Hebrew-nolad) to bring forth young, (Old Irish-Mi Nolagh) the month of the new born
CHRISTMAS - CHRIST (Greek-Khristos) anointed one - MAS -Sacrament of the Lord's Resurrection
This Christmas you may hear these words dozens and dozens of times, but have you ever stopped to dwell on their meanings? Some may say, "What does peace have to do with Christmas? It's the busiest time of the year." Look at the meaning for giving. Are the gifts you are giving this season coming from a heart of kindness that wants to give? Or do you feel you must give because it is expected?
Since i was a child, I have loved A Charlie Brown Christmas. The beginning of this show sets the stage of how disappointed Charlie Brown is with the commercialization of Christmas - even his dog has gone glitzy. When I was younger, the part that got to me the most was the poor little tree, chosen by Charlie himself. It seemed so sad and forgotten. The tinkling sound heard while its needles dwindled off made me feel time was of the essence. I think Charlie Brown has the same feeling, when he says, "It needs me."
Now, I realize the guts it took for little, round, Chuck to go against the crowd and choose a small, unadorned tree instead of a big pink, aluminum one like everyone wanted and expected. What is expected of you this Christmas? Do your children want the latest, most expensive toys and gadgets? Is everyone expecting you to invite them to your home or your party this year? Are you expected to send Christmas cards to people you haven't seen for a while? Maybe you are so busy with the ins and outs of daily life you haven't even had time to ponder presents, parties, and parcels.
Whatever anyone expects of you this season is not nearly as important as what you expect of yourself. Charles Schultz did the unexpected when he made A Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon. Network executives were horrified and thought the show would be a complete flop. It did not follow any of the protocol used when designing this kind of a program. It was done on a shoestring budget. Real children did the voices for the children, instead of adult actors. A jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi for a children's cartoon? This was NOT how things were done. But the biggest problem? Reading from the Gospel of Luke. Audiences would not be expecting this.
Sometimes, however, the unexpected works. Charlie Brown's traditional little tree, becomes more beautiful in the eyes of the beholders than any commercialized one ever could. And Charles Schultz's, A Charlie Brown Christmas, surpasses all expectations. Winning not only an Emmy, but a Peabody award as well. It may in fact be safe to say that A Charlie Brown Christmas is the most beloved Christmas show of all time.
Instead of doing everything that everyone else expects of you this Christmas, try focusing on one of the words above this season, and ask yourself what it is that you truly want to learn, be, or do this year.
The Savior of the world, the King of kings, was born in an unexpected place, at an inconvenient time, to plain ordinary people. That makes the true meaning of Christmas different from the beginning than what everyone expected.