Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TV and the Meaning of Christmas

Many people, especially believers, look back on the Charlie Brown Christmas Special with great fondness. One of the things that makes it so unique is the way it concisely and faithfully cuts through the seasonal chaos and pressure to remind us of the simple, beautiful meaning of the holiday.

What it doesn’t do, and this is something that a lot of believers fail to replicate today, is preach about what the season is NOT about. Linus doesn’t complain about the “X” instead of the “Christ.” He doesn’t bemoan Santa or the commercialism. But we have a problem with being that positive today. Instead of sharing the love of Jesus and the story of His birth, we have to assume our grumpy expressions and go around correcting everyone for doing the season wrong.

This is something that “Community” rightfully alluded to in the “Christmas” episodes of its first two seasons. Shelly, the Christian character, is too concerned with making sure people acknowledge the origins of Christmas to really enjoy things, and she gets pretty upset when people try to enjoy it in a different way than she would like. Hardly seems like the sort of way Jesus would want people to remember His Birthday, whenever it is remembered.

However, things get a little silly in the other extreme in the second season episode, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” In it, Abed is disappointed by a letdown of the season and begins to think that the world has become clay-mated, like his favorite Christmas special, “Rudolph.” The solution to his psychotic episode is for him to find the meaning of Christmas. That meaning, according to “Community,” is whatever anyone wants it to be. In other words everything and nothing at the same time. That is either the most encouraging or disappointing view of Christmas ever. Depends on whether you want Christmas to be a sentimental gobbledygook or something that has the potential to change the world.

Whatever you think, though, remember that the original intent of Christmas was to remember something positive and uplifting, not a chance to tell those who don’t believe how wrong they are.

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