I'm not outraged. I'm not beside myself. And I'm most certainly not clamoring on about the Obamas' purported participation in a seemingly never ending War on Christmas.
Instead, I'm profoundly confused, left scratching my head and pondering why President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama found it so painstakingly difficult to describe the "true meaning of Christmas" during their brief appearance on "It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown," an ABC special commemorating the popular holiday classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas."
Before I get into it, let me be the first to say that I think some of the battles over the so-called War on Christmas can get a little silly, with the Starbucks red cups debacle leading the pack when it comes to recent examples.
President Barack Obama waves as he walks with first lady Michelle Obama on their return to the White House from a trip to California, Monday, June 16, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
And I also recognize that we're talking about comments that the Obamas made in relation to a kids TV special — a fact that has led some to scoff at frustrations over the first couples' decision to leave Christ out of Christmas during their appearance.
But the Obama's comments about the meaning of Christmas are uniquely bizarre and, for a variety of reasons, deserve a fair bit of analysis. So, let's explore.
During the Monday night broadcast, President Obama praised "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for entertaining audiences for 50 years. Then, Michelle Obama followed that up by noting that the beloved characters in the holiday special have helped bring people together for a half century to “teach us the true meaning of Christmas.”
All of that is completely legitimate. And true. But then things seemingly go off the rails.
“They teach us that tiny trees just need a little love and that on this holiday we celebrate peace on Earth and good will toward all,” President Obama continued, with Michelle Obama promptly adding, “Because — as Linus knows — that’s what Christmas is all about.”
First of all, should Christmas inspire us all to treat one another well? Absolutely. Do we celebrate peace and good will in considering the birth of Christ? Sure. But is that really "what Christmas is all about?" No, not even in the slightest.
In fact, a brief look at good 'ol Merriam-Webster is pretty clear in defining the celebration as follows: "A Christian holiday that is celebrated on December 25 in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ or the period of time that comes before and after this holiday."
Photo Credit: AP
So, Christmas is quite obviously "all about" celebrating Jesus' birth, with peace, good will and positive treatment toward one another flowing from the source of the history-altering gift that arrived and was placed in a manger more than 2,000 years ago.
And while not everyone celebrates the birth of the savior, it's an impossibility to deny that this is the central purpose of the holiday. It seems quite odd to ignore that fact, with Michelle Obama specifically reiterating that the president's comments about "tiny trees" and world peace encapsulate what "Christmas is all about."
Okay, okay. So, some might see my arguments here as over-the-top, silly, picky or whatever other descriptive you choose to use to dismiss them, but let's look at the second curious detail about the first family's brief Charlie Brown remarks.
Michelle Obama made it a point to specifically reference Linus Van Pelt, a beloved Peanuts character, to reiterate her points about Christmas.
Here's why this can only result in incessant head scratching: In mentioning Linus, Michelle Obama was pointing to the pinnacle moment in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" — the scene in which Linus reads an incredibly powerful portion of scripture that specifically, without a doubt, tells us all what Christmas is really about.
It's in that beloved scene that Linus recites Luke 2:8-14 in an effort to communicate the true meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown — verses that explain the birth of the Messiah. And yes, those verses do reference "peace" and "good will toward men," but that isn't the purpose of the scriptures; it's to announce that Jesus — the Christian savior — was born.
Why reference Linus' heartfelt speech, which is clearly all about the gospel of Jesus Christ, if you don't plan to properly characterize the true meaning of Christmas?
On a third and related note, Linus tells us exactly what he believes the purpose of Christmas is. After reciting the aforementioned verses, he pauses before saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” Interestingly, these are almost the exact words that Michelle Obama used to affirm the president's definition of the holiday.
Watch Linus' speech below:
It's just odd. If you're going to point to the most moving portion of the show — the scene that audiences love precisely because it is one of the rare moments in which the true meaning of Christmas is highlighted in popular culture — why handle it in such a curious way?
And on a fourth and final note, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz, himself, intentionally placed the Christian verses in the show, according to Lee Mendelson, executive producer of "A Charlie Brown Christmas."
“He said, ‘If we’re going to do a Christmas special, we’ve really got to do it the right way and talk about what Christmas is all about,’” Mendelson told USA Today. ”[Director] Bill [Melendez] and I looked at each other, and I said, ‘There’s never been any animation that I know of from the Bible. It’s kind of risky.’ Then Mr. Schulz said, ‘Well, if we don’t do it, who will?’”
It's unfortunate to see that the same courage that Shulz exercised more than 50 years ago is often too lacking in our modern culture. Calling Christmas what it is — a celebration of Jesus' birth — shouldn't be controversial, nor difficult to do.
In the end, I'm not enraged. I'm not ringing bells in an effort to alert America to yet another battle in the ongoing War on Christmas. I'm simply asking people to say what they mean and mean what they say. In the end, the Obamas' failure to explain what Christmas really means does little to change the actual meaning of the day, though it's hard not to wonder what in the world they were thinking.
(H/T: Christian Post)