McComiskey’s McCorner: GOOD GRIEF

“I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I
don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”
These are the first words spoken in what I consider to be the quintessential holiday special: A Charlie
Brown Christmas. Charlie Brown then arrives at the conclusion that he doesn’t understand Christmas.
He enjoys the gifts and the trappings of the season, but he still winds up depressed. If you know
this classic as well as I do, then you know that the response of best-friend Linus to this crisis-of-
Christmas is exasperation at how Chuck can turn something as wonderful as Christmas into a problem,
speculating that perhaps his sister is right. “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the
Charlie Browniest.”
Christmas is my favorite time of year, hands down. I go crazy with lights, music, anything to immerse
myself in the season. (Except for pine-scented candles. There’s no substitute for the real
thing.) On Thanksgiving morning I squeal and bounce like a child when Santa arrives at the end of
the parade. This is what I wait for all year long.
And yet, of late I have felt very Charlie-Browny, indeed. Every year it seems to be harder for me to
get in the Christmas spirit. It isn’t Christmas fatigue. While the retail world pushes jingle bells and
holly at us sooner and sooner, I maintain a rigid starting point of the aforementioned Turkey Day-
Clausening. So what gives?
Of course, as Linus so matter-of-factly reminds us, what Christmas is actually all about is celebrating
the birth of Christ. (I mean, it’s right there in the name.) That’s why we give the gifts. That’s why
we hang the lights. That’s why we sing songs. Birthdays are exciting. (Just ask my six year old
It’s incredibly cliché to say “Jesus is the reason for the season.” We hear it all the time. It’s easy to
say, and probably makes we Christians feel a little superior when we say it. The thing is, Jesus would
be the first to tell you that words alone mean nothing. We can’t put up a Nativity scene in the living
room and a Keep Christ in Christmas sign on the lawn and call it a day. We have to embrace the
things that Jesus taught us.
Birthdays are fun. And maybe, if I try a little bit harder to remember what it is that I’m celebrating,
I’ll feel worthy of going to the party. So I’ll put a few more religious songs in my Christmas playlist.
I’ll light the (Advent) candles. I’ll try to be just that much nicer to everyone that I meet. And, even
though I have it memorized, I’ll listen to Linus’s scripture recitation a few more times. And maybe,
just maybe, mind you, I’ll have myself a merry little Christmas, after all. We’ll see how it goes.
In the meantime, does anybody happen to have a Christmas play that needs directing?