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What Christmas Is All About

Happy young mother and her daughters reading a story book together by a fireplace in a cozy dark living room on Christmas eve. Celebrating Christmas at home.
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The holiday season is a time of wonder, beauty, celebration, and spending time with the people you love.  But it can easily turn stressful when there’s a lot of pressure to find the perfect gift, make the perfect feast, create the perfect memories for your family, and so on.  It happens to the best of us; it even happened to Charlie Brown, of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” fame.  In the animated television special from 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie feels that stress.  The “commercialism” of Christmas, a failed play, and an embarrassing Christmas tree all builds up inside until he finally blows up, shouting, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about!?”

And then Charlie’s friend Linus steps up.  He takes center stage.  And he recites:

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 good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all 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, good will toward men.

Linus is quoting from the Bible, specifically Luke 2:8-14 (read as “the book of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14”), also known as the “Annunciation to the Shepherds.”  In a nutshell, this passage describes the “Christmas Story”: a baby who would grow up to be the Savior was born in a manger; angels appeared to shepherds to proclaim this good news and tell them how to find the baby (by following a star); and then the angels filled the sky, praising and worshiping God.

This baby is Jesus.  The Christian religion recognizes Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe to be the son of God and the Lord and Savior of mankind.

Why is his birth so important?  Christian doctrine explains that although Jesus is divine, he came to earth as a human being in the humblest of ways, born as a baby in a Bethlehem barn.  He became a man, to live among men and women, to teach about God and Heaven, to perform miracles, to be an example to people, to live a perfect life, and to ultimately be a sacrifice for the sins of man.  After many years as a teacher, leader, and prophet, and as a threat to the powers-that-be, he was falsely accused of a variety of crimes and ultimately condemned to death.  He was crucified and died on the cross.  Three days later, he was resurrected (rose from the dead), showing that he has the power to conquer death and thus, can likewise provide people with eternal life.  According to the Bible, all it takes is believing.

So the Christian view of Christmas is more than presents, goodies, carols, and being together with family.  It’s even more than Jesus’ birthday party.  It’s expressing gratitude for Jesus’ life and sacrifice, and for celebrating his gift to mankind.

As Linus says, “that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

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Kelly is a librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. As the Adult Programming Specialist, her focus is bringing adults the library programs they love.  (Kids can’t have ALL the fun!).  She reads strictly nonfiction and picture books.  She believes that anything you could ever need or want is located somewhere in the library.  Including friends.