I did something the other night that I hadn’t done in years. I watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
The short animated show brought back so many memories — from my own childhood, as well as those of our children’s.
The show debuted on Dec. 9, 1965, and has aired every year since then. I so remember my sweet father telling us it was coming on. We all watched it, hanging on every word.
Back then, there were not that many Christmas shows, so you had to be careful not to miss any them. There were no videos or any other way to watch a show if we missed “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Rudolf,” “Frosty the Snowman” or “Santa Clause is Coming to Town.”
Of course, “The Grinch who Stole Christmas” was another favorite nobody wanted to miss.
To refresh readers’ memories, Charlie Brown is depressed, even though everybody else is excited about the Christmas season. Don’t we all know somebody like that?
Frustrated, Charlie Brown keeps asking what is the real meaning of Christmas. He visits Lucy in her “counseling booth,” and she suggests he direct the school Christmas play to help him get in the spirit.
Nobody takes direction from Charlie Brown all that well, adding to his depression. Lucy then suggests Charlie Brown go pick out a bright and shiny Christmas tree for the play.
Linus accompanies him to the tree yard. Instead of getting one of the large, bright trees, Charlie Brown settles on a small sapling that resembles a tree branch, more than a Christmas tree.
Of course, there is backlash from his peers and this causes more frustration as he, once again, says nobody can seem to tell him the meaning of Christmas.
Suddenly, Linus takes center stage and recites the story of the shepherds and the angels from the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8-14.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” After his moving speech, Linus says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
After doing some research, I discovered there are several things about the show that were unconventional.
First, it was written in just a few weeks. Also, remember the music? They used a jazz score (unusual for a children’s show) by pianist Vince Guaraldi.
The producers also hired child actors, and opted to not use a laugh track. Again, both were unusual for the times.
Not many people, including those closest to the project, thought “A Charlie Brown Christmas” would do well. I love that the show defied all odds and became beloved by so many.
The creator of Peanuts, Charles Schulz, was such a talent. Born in 1922, Schulz knew from a young age he wanted to be a cartoonist.
As a boy growing up in Minnesota, Schulz and his father would read the “funnies” every Sunday morning. He worked as a cartoonist during the 1940s and ’50s with much success.
The “Peanuts” strip made its debut on Oct. 2, 1950, in seven newspapers across the country. As readers got to know the characters, they loved them more and more.
Snoopy’s popularity soared in the 1960s and allowed Schulz to take the strip in more directions with a dog that had so many human qualities.
When Schulz retired in 1999, the “Peanuts” comic strip was syndicated in more than 2,600 newspapers around the world. He passed away on Feb. 13, 2000, but lives on through “Peanuts.” What an incredible legacy.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.