I hope you listen to some Charlie Brown Christmas music this year. And I hope you love every second of it like I do.
Today, I watched a children’s choir in the mall. They were singing Charlie Brown Christmas music for a crowd of proud parents and onlookers.
One little boy was dressed like Snoopy. Another was dressed like Woodstock.
When they sang a slow rendition of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” it sounded like my entire childhood coming to life. I closed my eyes and could almost see the 1965 Charlie Brown special, playing in my mind.
Afterward, I saw my friend’s son, Adam. He was in the choir. Adam has Down syndrome, and a heart the size of North Dakota.
He threw his arms around me. He said, “Hey! Thanks for coming! I love you, Sean! Do you know that?”
As a matter of fact, Adam has told me this a lot.
Next, a ten-year-old girl squeezed me. Then another kid. Then another. Then Snoopy. Then Peppermint Patty. Soon, I was being hugged by thirty-four kids in Christmas regalia.
See what I mean? That’s the unbridled power of a Charlie Brown Christmas.
After they finished, they attacked other adult victims like a virus. The people reacted to the hugs the same way I did. Some laughed. Some blushed. But everyone was warmed.
Later, I wandered upstairs to the mall bookstore, just to kill time. I selected a book to read from the five-dollar bin.
This is where things got weird.
The first thing I saw was a book of Peanuts comic strips. While I thumbed through the book of funnies, Charlie Brown Christmas music started playing over the intercom AT THE SAME TIME.
So I bought the comic book, even though I already own it. The cashier asked if I wanted it gift-wrapped for an extra dollar.
“Why not?” I said.
She wrapped it in shiny paper, and placed a ribbon around it.
Then, I walked through the mall, feeling like a million bucks.
I ran into a man I used to know a long time ago. I hardly recognized him. He didn’t look like himself. He’s lost a lot of weight.
Once, we worked on a landscaping crew together. He ran the edgers, I ran the mowers.
We shook hands. I asked how he’d been. He said that life hasn’t been so good. And the details don’t matter, but let’s just say he’s going through a rough patch.
“This holiday season ain’t been fun,” he said. “I’ve even started seeing a therapist, man, I’m a wreck.”
He didn’t start crying or anything—landscapers don’t do that. But I could tell these past few years have taken a lot out of him.
So I handed him a small, gift-wrapped book I happened to be carrying.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“Something I want you to have.”
“This some kinda joke?”
“Don’t read it all in one sitting. You’re have to savor them or they lose their impact.”
That’s when I looked over the balcony and saw the children’s choir below us. They were all heading toward the exit with their parents like the Children of Israel.
I had an idea.
“Hey,” I asked my buddy. “You have a few seconds?”
“For what?” he said.
“It’ll be really quick, I promise.”
“WHAT will be quick?”
“Come with me, and you’ll find out.”
He glanced at his watch. “Man, I wish I could, but I’m kinda in a hurry.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “But if you don’t come with me I’m going to push you down the escalator.”
We rushed downstairs and followed the second-graders into the parking lot. I introduced my friend to a handful of rosy-cheeked children with big smiles.
Then I asked the kids—actually, I bribed them—to sing a few Charlie Brown songs for us.
The children obliged. They fell into formation and sang, “Little Drummer Boy,” then “Christmas Time is Here.”
My friend and I applauded after each tune.
Afterward, the child-sized troops hugged my friend like they’d hugged me earlier. The kids attached to him like the measles.
Adam was first to lead the attack. Schroeder and Pig Pen followed next. It was a mass hug of comic proportions.
So anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about while I write this. About hugs, singing kids, old friends, and people who are sad but keep wearing fake smiles.
I don’t know where you find yourself tonight. I don’t know whether you are happy or blue. You might not know me, and you might not want to, either. But this stranger stayed up late writing a ridiculous collection of words just to tell you this:
You’re going to get through this. And that’s not an opinion.
Now quick, go find something Charlie Brown as fast as you can.