There is no better way to get yourself ready for the Christmas spirit than TV specials. The month leading up to the big day, networks are filled with airings of Will Ferrell’s elf. 1960’s classics like Rudolf, Frosty and Grinch and if you’re lucky you will catch Muppets Family Christmas. One timeless favorite has become a staple for households all over. It involves a bald headed child uncertain of the meaning of holidays, everyone’s favourite dancing dog, and the worlds ugliest Christmas tree.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was the successful 1965 animated special based off the wildly popular Peanuts comic strip. The second televised adventures of Charlie, Snoopy, and the gang created by Charles M. Schulz. It’s creation in the time period involved many unconventional means including child actors, lack of laugh track, a jazz soundtrack, and a melancholy pace and tone. Despite the concerns and the last minute completion of the film it gained high ratings, critical success, and an annual airing tradition that has lasted 50+ years. The controversial jazz soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi was equally as successful and has become one of the worlds most recognizable themes.
Featuring a depressed Charlie Brown struggling to get into the Christmas spirit. As he confides in his friends of his disappointment with the over-commercialism of the holiday, Lucy recommends Charlie direct a Christmas play. With an uncooperative cast, Charlie sets off in search of a tree for the play. Infamously, Charlie chooses the most ragged and depressing twig possible. After, the others add their disapproval of the stick, Charlie is ready to give up on Christmas all together. The gang comes together to decorate the dying tree and when Charlie returns he is overwhelmed with a the Christmas spirit of love and good will.
Over fifty years later and the retro special is still a favourite for many children and adults. The humbling experiences of Charlie Brown have resonated with those disgruntled with what Christmas has become. In the modern world the holidays have had a major focus on commercialism that can be near impossible to hide from. It is specials like this that remind us Christmas is not about buying, or receiving presents, but about friends, family and good will. A moral that feels good to be reminded of every year.
There have been many adaptations of A Charlie Brown Christmas, including a live stage production. The story has been collected into books many times in many languages, and is one of our family favourites around this time of year. And, we are happy to share the humbling story with another generation that could easily be lost in the swarm of stuff and things.
Thanks booknerds, and merry Christmas Charlie Brown.