Something happened last night while my kids and I were watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. Right after Linus quotes Luke 2:8-14, I tweeted “I love Linus! #CharlieBrownChristmas.”
And then a fight broke out in my living room.
Matthew (7 years old) decided to pinch Bradley (8 years old). This started a chain reaction of kids getting flung off of the couch and ottoman where they had been sitting and lying quietly up until that point.
I reacted by getting up, turning the TV off and ordering all of them to go to bed. I didn’t yell or spank, I simply made them go to bed without watching the last 6 minutes of the best Christmas special ever.
Immediately there were tears shed. My four older kids (a 10-year-old girl, an 8-year-old boy, and two 7-year-old boys) all slumped their shoulders and trudged toward their bedrooms, saying “We’re sorry! We’re sorry!” over and over. Mary Hope (three years old) just stood there, watching the whole thing with inquisitive eyes.
After they got into their beds, I turned their lights off and listened to them cry. I walked back into the living room, sat in my chair and pondered a little bit.
My wife wasn’t with us because she has class on Monday nights, but we have recently had conversations about how to best show grace to the children God has given us. I pondered that some. I also pondered how much I loved each of them. And I pondered the words Linus quoted as he expounded on the true meaning of Christmas. Then I grabbed the case that holds our meager DVD collection.
Finding my very own copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas, I put it into my laptop and fast-forwarded it to the spot where my kids decided to engage in a little Christmas combat. Then I called them back into the living room. They came back in, still crying, and sat on the couch.
After they calmed down I talked to them a little bit about grace, about how God’s grace was shown to us by Jesus coming into our world, living a perfect life and dying on the cross for our sins. I talked about the good tidings of great joy that has been and is being proclaimed to all people. I told them how much I loved them and wanted them to have a better understanding of grace.
Then I sat my laptop on the ottoman and pressed play. Their eyes lit up as they watch Charlie Brown take his sorry-looking tree back home, give up on it and then sing along with his friends after they made a beautiful tree together.
When it was over my kids had a few questions about Jesus being born and laid in a manger, about Heaven, and about why some people think Christmas is about presents when it is really about Jesus.
After our Q&A, I hugged each of them and walked with them to their bedrooms. Their eyes weren’t filled with tear this time; this time they looked to be filled with love, joy, and even a little peace.
Our good night fell apart because of a fight, but it was redeemed and became a great night–all because of grace.
What is your favorite Christmas special?
How have you experienced God’s grace recently?