Tonight I was struck by the ways in which Charles Schulz calls us to imagine a world in which we would choose to live – if only we could. The little child who leads in this cartoon drama is Linus, the blanket-toting kid who is able to answer Charlie Brown’s question: “Can someone tell me what Christmas is about?” Charlie is overwhelmed and confused by the rampant commercialism he has heard from his pals, chief among them Lucy, the headstrong know-it-all that we all know (oh my, or have been ourselves!). Linus knows the story of the shepherds in the field, the star in the night sky, the angel chorus, and God’s gift of love. And he leads, brings back the play group’s corporate mind, to the real meaning of Christmas.
As I was watching Linus’ monologue on the stage I was aware of the absence of adults. These cartoon characters live in a safe world where they can be together without fear. Charlie Brown walks home with his Charlie Brown Christmas tree all alone. I walked alone when I was a youngster; I would be reluctant to let a young child do so today.
In this cartoon world of Schultz’s imaginings Snoopy’s doghouse has won first prize for best decorated home. As a dog owner and lover I cheered Snoopy’s spirit and accomplishment! But his decorations were short lived – on his house that is. The community – the beloved community we imagine we might one day live in – came together to decorate Charlie Brown’s minimalist tree, transforming it with their care and warm hearts. We too like to imagine we might be transformed by the spirit of Christmas – or the spirit of the holiday you celebrate at this time.
In the end it seems to me that the reason Christmas has such a hold on many of us is because it revives our imaginations. We imagine what fun it will be to give that perfect and unique present to a special friend, or how wonderful it will be to be with people we love over the holiday season. We imagine the joy we will find in going to the mailbox finding cards and notes from folks we do not otherwise hear from frequently. We imagine how it is to be loved, and how it is to extend love to others.
And our imaginings bring comfort and joy.