Tis the Season to be a Charlie Brown

I love Charlie Brown. Along with being an American staple and holiday classic, he’s also pretty darn relevant to grown-ups. Here’s a kid who feels a full spectrum of emotions and isn’t afraid to voice it, even when it’s not popular. Regardless of your opinion of the season, the holidays tend to evoke some extremity of sentiment from most. Personally, I love Christmas: the festivities, the music and above all, the traditions. Most of the time I feel so incredibly full of joy and warmth, yet there always seems to be an underlying tone of anxious trepidation.

The funny thing about getting older is that you become much more aware of time and its consequences. I’ve been on this earth for a whopping 21 years, so the gravity of this scenario hasn’t quite reached its prime. Yet I still cannot help but wonder what our memories will look like in years to come.
For example, last night we read Twas the Night Before Christmas, as we do every Christmas Eve. Despite our more mature ages, my sisters and I still gather to flip through the storybook that was presented to us many, many years ago by Santa. As Margaret recited the poem, my mind wandered to the possibilities of Christmas 2015 — where will our paths have lead us since the last time we read this book?
I pose this question to myself not as a form of torture but rather to ensure my gratitude for every moment. We are each at a critical point in our lives; this time next year, I will be in the workforce and my sisters will be away at school (Lord willing on all accounts). Change is inevitable and the future is unknown, yet I can make the most out of what’s going on here and now.
At church, our minister, Dr. Pace, preached about the importance of celebrating Christmas as a jubilant festivity while still carrying its message of love with you throughout the year. I think that’s why this time of year brings out such a range of emotions: because God wants us to be joyful and happy to the point that we let it really soak in how precious these times are….which can be overwhelming.
A verse that I have always been fond of but have especially been drawn to this season is Luke 2:19 (Dr. Pace actually made this the key verse in his Christmas Eve service, coincidentally):
“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
Mary had just given birth to Jesus Christ….can you even imagine? Here was this virgin teenage girl who was: visited by an angel, bestowed the most important prophecy in existence and, having delivered her baby in a barn, called on by kings and shepherds alike that wanted to honor their newborn savior. This was not to be taken lightly. While God has only chosen Mary to be the mother of His Son, He still choses us to embrace and share His love with the world daily. Treat it like a gift, then honor this grace bestowed to us.
I’ll close by saying that last night was a memory I will try to treasure and take in after the holiday season ends. Every year, our Christmas Eve service ends with the entire congregation singing Silent Night by candlelight. As the room darkened, each attendee lit their candle and sang the hymn I’ve heard so many times before. But during the last verse when the only sounds are bells and voices — literally all is calm and bright — I felt I was truly able to embrace the moment for what it was. Here was a room full of hundreds of people, pausing for a brief instance to join their fellow man in a song about a sleeping baby that would grow up to be the Prince of Peace. What an incredible sight it was, knowing that every single person set aside their worries and troubles to raise a candle in reverence. 
I pray that this Christmas’s blessing is to bring many moments such as these, even when December 25th has long passed. Life can be so confusing and unfair, but, just as Charlie Brown discovers, God’s love is beautiful and full of promise: like Jesus was when he came into this world 2,014 years ago.

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