Christmas Special

O Lord, you are my God;

    I will exalt you, I will praise your name;

for you have done wonderful things,

    plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

Isaiah 25:1

I miss claymation. And stop-motion. And familiar faces come to life.

I miss Christmas specials. As a kid, Christmas TV specials were my daily delight on the ride towards Christmas. There was always something: Charlie Brown, and Frosty, and Rudolph, and a half dozen Santa-themed ones I’ve long since forgotten the names of. Even live specials with Andy Williams or Perry Como raised my excitement about the holiday.

Today? Well…they’re probably all still out there, playing on one channel or another, accompanied to no end by new specials featuring computer graphics, anime, and lots of “stars” I’ve never heard of. Oh, there may be a bunch of fantastic Christmas specials drifting out there in the ether, but I don’t really watch much. Maybe I miss the old days, when you could just flip three channels at 7pm and find what you were looking for.

The old days did a better job of making “Christmas special”, didn’t they? Decorations were more vivid. Ornaments held more meaning. Every Christmas song was like unwrapping a special gift. Cookies were special treats. Visits from relatives were special occasions. Everything was… special.

The scripture above, from Isaiah 25, is actually a plea for deliverance from oppression, and that might seem appropriate for your Christmas season this year. What struck me was the last phrase, “plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” There is something special about those words — the idea that God’s plans were put in motion long, long ago, and that we can trust them as they unfold throughout our lives.

Those plans culminated in Jesus. Surely this is what makes Christmas special — the notion that what happened in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was prime time for us to see. This is not network programming, this is God’s programming. It’s the most special of all the Christmas specials, waiting for us to tune in and celebrate.

It is easy to look to the past with rosy glasses, remembering the old ways as the best ways. Christmas when I was a child was mostly special because I was a child. It is my hope that children around the globe feel some of the same thrill today as I did back then.

It is my further hope that I can feel some of that specialness as an adult, too. It’s not too late for any of us. When Andy Williams says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, I tend to believe him. And I still get teary when Linus recites the Christmas story.

But most of all, when I look to the past, I need to look farther back than the decades of my childhood. I need to look way back, to the original Christmas special, and remember that there are no reruns…

The original is still playing.

Have a great week,