A Charlie Brown Christmas is a true work of art. The songs. Snoopy dancing around. The sad little Christmas tree that gets a little TLC at the end. Nearly everyone, I’d wager, has some warm memory of this Christmas cartoon.
I can’t tell you how surprised I was when a friend told me that in the scene where Linus is trying to explain to Charlie Brown what “Christmas is all about,” Linus drops his blanket. I couldn’t believe it and immediately checked. Sure enough, as Linus repeats the scene between the angel and the shepherds and says “Fear not!,” the blue blanket falls from his hand.
But why should this matter, you may wonder? Because the whole character of Linus is marked by his inability to leave behind his security blanket, a sign of his still being a little kid and a sign of his fear. Yet, in this scene we see Linus, surrounded by light, cast away his blanket as if it no longer offered the meaning and the protection he so long believed. Linus embodies the gospel at that moment. Not only can he say “Fear not,” but he actually leaves behind his fears. That found courage propels him, in front of all his friends, to announce the good news of the birth of a savior, Jesus.
Did Charles Schulz intend this dropping of the blanket? Or is it just a happy coincidence? Am I reading too much into it? It wouldn’t be a first. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter.
The Gospel according to Linus leaves us a lot to think about: what fears do I hold on to? does light surround me? how can I show my courage? does the Christmas mystery transform me, as it transforms Linus?
The end of the scene has Linus picking up his blanket again as he walks out of the surrounding light. Even though it was only a brief moment, in a moment of freedom Linus helps Charlie Brown (and us) to remember the focus of Christmas.