In the classic film, A Charlie Brown Christmas, the story opens with Charlie Brown questioning his own feelings of depression over the Yuletide season. The season is meant to bring joy, but all Charlie feels is emptiness. Therefore, he embarks upon a quest to find the true meaning of Christmas. Charlie Brown soon finds out that the reason for the season does not come from sparkly baubles or aluminum Christmas trees, but rather in something much deeper and more meaningful. After his blanket-toting best friend Linus recounts the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 2:8-14, Charlie Brown discovers (in the words of another well-known Christmas figure) that “Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” Charlie and his friends had gotten caught up in the commercialization and secularization of the holiday and; therefore, temporarily disregarded the story of the Nativity of our Lord. Don’t get me wrong, I love Santa Claus and Rudolf just as much as the next person, but I too find myself getting a bit caught up in the materialism of the season.
Every year when I watch this short film, I’m reminded at least briefly of “what Christmas is all about.” This year; however, I found another message hidden within the film’s animated holiday veneer. As I watched Charlie Brown struggle to “find Christmas,” I saw someone yearning for a return to true values and virtues in the face of an increasingly morally unhinged society. I saw a young boy who saw the truth, yet was rejected for his discovery. As I witnessed Charlie Brown’s struggle, I felt a certain kinship with him, a connection that I’m sure all conservatives share. We know what it’s like to see our society crumble around us, witness the lies and ignorance in the media and political realm and yet feel powerless to stop the degradation. In short, there’s a little bit of Charlie Brown in all of us.
Collectively, conservatives are increasingly getting in touch with our “inner Charlie Browns.” It is clear to most of us that our society has strayed far from its foundational values and principles. Limited government has become bloated bureaucracy. Freedom of religion has become freedom from religion and the free market has become a well-regulated economy. Evidently, although a spirit of revivalism is spreading through right-thinking America, we are no longer the country of our Founding Fathers. The battle for principled restoration is a difficult one. However, it’s one that conservatives have already undertaken on a grand scale. We’ve also started feeling the burden of the challenge just like Charlie Brown felt the pressure of his own struggles. After he selected a small, forgettable evergreen for the Christmas pageant instead of a glitzy aluminum tree, Charlie was criticized incessantly by his peers for not conforming to society’s skewed perspective on the holiday. Conservatives certainly know what this feels like. The more we preach the principles of small government, deregulated freedom and social conservatism, the louder and harsher our opposition becomes.
It is increasingly difficult to uncover truth and embrace a rational perspective when it seems like everyone else has delved into the realm of irrationality. After Charlie Brown triumphantly returns to the school auditorium with a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial counterpart, he is in fact not praised for his genuineness. Rather, he is mocked. For Charlie, the commercialization and destruction of Christmas was all too apparent. However, his peers were oblivious to their own skewed perspectives. After he unsuccessfully tries to convince the other children of the authenticity of his own gesture, he finally gives in to his own frustration and shouts: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Now, fellow conservatives, how many times have you wanted to shout in a similarly frustrated manner? Why doesn’t anyone seem to see our nation slipping through our fingers? How can the mainstream media exist on a foundation of bias and get away with it? Often, it seems like these questions go unanswered and fade away into a lifeless abyss. It’s practically impossible to find truth when objective rationality is no longer an effective solution and rational queries are seemingly ignored. However, in both Charlie Brown’s case and our own, many of the answers we yearn for already exist.
After Charlie Brown’s frustration reached a climax, Linus stepped in and provided the answers that his friend had been looking for. In response to Charlie’s query about the true meaning of Christmas, Linus simply recited the Bible verse pertaining to Christ’s birth, the real reason for the season. He did not provide his own commentary or perspective. It simply wasn’t needed. The unblemished truth had already been written. In the battlefield of political debate, many of our answers have already been recorded and proven successful. We must simply look back to the thoughts and words of our founders and at the religious, philosophical, and political sources from which they drew their inspiration. These sources, like the Constitution and the Bible, form the core of our belief system. We must start by reading and studying them to rediscover the values that built our nation. We don’t need to morph any of these documents into something modern and attractive. The truth provides its own eternal appeal. Like the authentic Christmas tree Charlie Brown selected, perhaps all our foundational documents need is a little love and respect. Just like no amount of tinsel or bows will make Christmas into something meaningful, no degree of modern distortion will restore our nation’s core values and provide the answers to our seemingly endless queries. All of the answers have already been written. We merely need to look past our society’s aluminum Christmas trees to find them.