7 Lessons from 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'

A military mom shares how the classic television special reminds her what’s really important during the holiday season.

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Charlie Brown and Snoopy at Christmas

The first Christmas our son was deployed proved challenging. Every winking light, glittering ornament or wrapped present reminded me of him. Surprisingly, one of the hardest parts of the holidays was watching television. Our family always loved viewing Christmas specials together. 

I did my best to join in the fun with our two youngest sons, but everyone could tell my heart just wasn’t in it. So I sent up a quick prayer one evening, right before we sat down to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, asking God to help me through. And did He ever! He used that specific show to teach me some lessons about Christmas and having a son deployed: 

1)  Feeling down during Christmas isn’t unusual
Early on, Lucy reminds Charlie Brown that he’s not the only one who gets down during the holidays. God reminded me that it’s normal for military families too—especially when someone they love won’t be home. 

2) Turn to your friends
Charlie Brown did exactly the right thing. He told his friends how he was feeling. And sure enough, one of them came up with a suggestion to help him out. Likewise, when I reached out to my friends while our son was gone, they helped me come up with ways to lift my spirits.

3)  Get involved
When we take our focus off ourselves, our problems shrink. By having something to do that benefits others, we find purpose and blessings for ourselves.

4) Avoid the commercial side
I don’t think there’s anyone out there who isn’t aware of the commercial side of Christmas. It’s often too big to fight, but we can learn to avoid it. Find ways to work around the spend-spend-spend of the season and stay connected with friends and family.

5) Look for magic in unexpected places
Charlie Brown found it in a tiny, scruffy tree. I found it that year in an abandoned bird’s nest. Our youngest son brought it inside to me—so proud of his gift. Now, every year it nestles in our Christmas tree beside the blown glass and handmade offerings. 

6) Trust your instincts
Yes, Charlie Brown found the tree, but he lost faith in what it could be. It took his friends to remind him that his instincts were spot on. Don’t lose sight of what you feel in your heart.

7) Don’t forget why we celebrate
Ultimately we need to remember why we celebrate Christmas at all. When we honor the love God showed us through a tiny baby, it puts everything in perspective. 

Yes, the holidays are tough on military families who are in the midst of a deployment. But there is still hope and a reason to celebrate. So dust off your family traditions and ask God to give you some new ones as you think about what makes Christmas so special.

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