When Charlie Brown suffers from holiday season depression, he gets help.
He goes to see his shrink, Lucy.
“My trouble is Christmas,” he confides in her. “I just don’t understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down.”
Even his best friend Linus is running short on patience. “You are the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem,” Linus tells him, adding, “Of all of the Charlie Browns in the world, you are the Charlie Brown-i-est.”
But instead of recommending retreating from this world, Lucy prescribes just the opposite: “You need to get involved in some real Christmas project,” she advises. And at her encouraging, Charlie Brown agrees to direct the Christmas play, and along the way discovers the true meaning of the season.
So when a pastor at my mega-church recently cornered me and asked if I’d participate in this year’s Christmas program, I relented. After all, maybe involvement would help cure my own holiday blues. Besides, my shrink won’t return my calls.
But what exactly did I sign up to do? I wasn’t sure, so I looked it up on the church’s website:
“The Grove Community Church is presenting a unique outdoor experience illuminating the entire story of Christmas…take part in a narrated and guided hay-ride alongside live actors and animals in scenes utilizing sound and imagery. In addition to this journey toward Bethlehem, there will be live music, crafts for the kids, free coffee and cocoa, and more…Bundle up and bring your neighbors, family, and friends. You won't want to miss on this exciting Christmas event…”
A hay ride past scenes depicting the nativity. A Christ child drive-by.
A wise man.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: It’s typecasting. Nonetheless…
I admit that my acting resume is a little out of date. The most recent credits include a supporting role in my high school play, and low budget film featuring zombies and rock band. I played the drummer. But that was in 1984.
Still, my pastor must have recognized untapped talent. That, or he was absolutely desperate and had nowhere else to turn.
For good measure, I also volunteered my 13 year-old daughter to be cast in the roll of the Virgin Mary and drafted my 14 year-old son for the part of the angel Gabriel. He in turn has threatened to deliver his lines impersonating John Travolta’s Vinnie Barbarino Brooklyn accent.
I’m sure the pastor will love it.
Or deeply regret it.
Rehearsal is Tuesday. We open on Wednesday night.