by: Richard Beck
As a child I loved all the children’s Christmas shows. I was so addicted to these TV shows that, looking back, I can now discern that everything I know about Christmas I learned from TV.
The first lesson I learned was from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. You recall the show. The Grinch, who lives in the mountains high above Whoville, hates the noise associated with Christmas. So the Grinch dresses up like Santa Claus, descends to Whoville and proceeds to steal all the Christmas stuff from the Whos.
The Grinch’s plan is simple. He figures that if he takes away all the Christmas “stuff,” the Whos won’t be able to celebrate Christmas.
But the Grinch is wrong. In the climactic scene, the Whos come out of their homes and, without a single piece of Christmas paraphernalia or presents, begin to sing their Christmas song, “Welcome Christmas.”
And upon hearing the song, the Grinch has this realization:
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe … Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!”
That was the first lesson I learned from TV: Christmas does not come from a store. Christmas is more.
But more of what? The show doesn’t say.
But I found a clue to this mystery in another beloved show: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Specifically, Rudolph taught me that Christmas is more because Christmas has something to do with misfits finding community.
Rudolph is a misfit because of his nose. Hermey the elf is a misfit because he wants to be a dentist. So they sing the mournful little song “We’re a Couple of Misfits”:
We’re a couple of misfits
What’s the matter with misfits?
Seems to us kinda silly
That we don’t fit in.
Later in the show, Rudolph and Hermey find themselves on the Island of Misfit Toys, a place where rejected, unwanted and unloved toys find sanctuary.
But by the end of the show, all the misfits find community and love. Even the abominable snowman!
From all of this I learned a second big lesson about Christmas: Something about Christmas means that misfits are loved. Christmas means that misfits have a place, a community and a home.
But I was still puzzled as a child. Why does Christmas mean that misfits are loved? Like before, the show never says.
But luckily there was more TV to watch!
In the show A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is struggling to find out why Christmas is so depressing. Late in the show, after buying a sad little tree that everyone laughs at, it all boils over and Charlie Brown screams, “Would someone please tell me the true meaning of Christmas?!”
“Sure, Charles Brown,” says Linus, “I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”
Why is Christmas more? Why are misfits loved?
Linus steps into the spotlight and begins to speak:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Linus walks back over to Charlie Brown and says:
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Finally, I had my answer.