The Ottumwa Courier

December 10, 2012

'And a little child shall lead them'

The Road Less Traveled

Courier editor

OTTUMWA — Editor’s Note: Due to the request of our readers, we are pleased to reprint this column from 2004.

Like many of us, I sometimes am overwhelmed with the holidays — the commercialism, the extravagant holiday parties, gifts, wrapping paper, ornaments, Christmas cards, light displays, giant air-filled Santas and snowmen.

But now and again, it takes the voice of a child to point us in the right direction — to share the true meaning of Christmas.

The other night, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” aired on television and what can only be described as a poignant moment for me as a child, and still today as an adult, was Linus’ speech about what Christmas is all about.

He recited part of the Christmas story from the Bible, Luke 2:8-14.

And for a few moments, the rest of the Peanuts gang forgot about the Christmas play they were trying to put on or about finding the perfect tree.

This animated Christmas show may be nearly 40 years old, but its message, just like the one written more than 2,000 years ago, is at the heart of what this season is all about.

We recently printed some letters to Santa from young children in Ottumwa about what they wanted for Christmas.

While many listed Barbie dolls and video games, there were a couple of letters that stood out.

Having toys and presents were not an issue to one child, rather having Dad home from Kuwait was far more important. Or the letter from another child thanking Santa for being able to celebrate Christmas early this year because Dad was going to be gone Dec. 25.

These children’s voices, not unlike the cartoon character of Linus, offer reason and a bit of sanity for the rest of us caught up in the chaos of the Christmas season.

You need not be religious to understand that the origins of Christmas are a far cry from what it has become.

So what is Christmas all about?

Ask a child, look in his or her eyes, and you’ll find the true meaning of what this holiday is all about.

Merry Christmas!