This 'Good of the Order' article was adapted from and expanded upon from a 2015 'Good of the Order' article orginally written by SK Gary Patishnock, PGK, PFN

As Knights of Columbus, our first and foremost mission is charity. However, every year, the stress, secularism, commercialism, and materialism of the Christmas season can distract us from charity and the true meaning of Christmas. To me, the perfect reminder of the true meaning of Christmas and the continued struggle against the secularization and commercialization of the holiday is the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, which premiered 52 years ago this month on December 9, 1965.

In the beginning of the special, Charlie Brown is witness to several examples of commercialism and materialism among his family, friends and even his dog, Snoopy. In one instance his sister, Sally, asks Charlie Brown to help write her letter to Santa. Sally implies she is asking for a long list of gifts and says she will instead accept money, “tens and twenties,” if getting every item on the list proves to be too complicated for Santa. Today, requesting “tens and twenties” as a gift may not sound like a lot but, in 1965, when a postage stamp cost 5 cents and a gallon of gas averaged 31 cents, Sally’s request for tens and twenties is enormous.

Things reach a boiling point when Charlie Brown, ridiculed and laughed at by his friends and Snoopy for his choice in Christmas tree, loudly demands, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” Linus then takes the stage and recites the following, bringing the special to a climax:

“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 they were so afraid. 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 Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

“And that’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”   

We all know Linus recites the annunciation to the shepherds from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, versus 8 through 14. But what you may not know is how close this part of the special came to not happening. Producers Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez pressured Peanuts creator Charles Schulz to avoid religion because it was a controversial topic. Schulz responded by saying, “If we don’t do it, who will?” And the rest is history. Linus helps Charlie Brown to realize the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown heads for home determined not to let commercialism ruin his Christmas, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” went on to become a hit that is still aired at least twice a year.

This Christmas season, and every Christmas season, I encourage you and your family to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas for a reminder of why we as Catholics and Knights of Columbus celebrate Christmas. The gift giving and receiving, the tree, the lights, and all the trappings are nice, but we must remember it is truly about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And please also remember to do something charitable this Christmas, maybe by making a gift to your favorite Knights of Columbus charitable program. Between Coats for Kids, the Military Chaplains Fund, the Wheelchair Initiative, Christian Refugee Relief Fund, and many more, you have lots of choices.

Merry Christmas, and Vivat Jesus!

adapted from and expanding on a 2015 Good of the Order by Sir Knight Gary Patishnock, PGK, PFN