Festivus Retro Squad: A Charlie Brown Christmas
As someone who grew up during the 70s and the 80s, Christmas wasn't complete without several things. These included the Coca-Cola "I'd like to give the world a Coke ... " commercial, Mitch Miller's Holiday Sing-A-Long album, and A Charlie Brown Christmas on television. From those awesome Dolly Madison commercial to the spinning "CBS Special" animated logo opening and the strains of "Christmastime is Here," my little brother and I wouldn't move from in front of the TV until Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang were done singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." This special, along with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, can teleport me back to my childhood faster than anything.
It's hard to believe that A Charlie Brown Christmas turned 40 last year. So what makes this special so endearing? For most people it's the pure and simple fact that it nails the meaning of Christmas like no other special ever has. When Linus marches out on that stage and recites from the book of Luke, he cuts through all of the glitz, wrapping paper, shopping frenzies, and commercialism and reminds us what Christmas is all about. Whether you believe in the Bible or not, the hubbub around the holidays obscure the religious origins of this time of year so well that we frequently get caught up in it all, and it takes a little kid with a penchant for blankets to help us remember.
And who doesn't identify with poor Charlie Brown on some level? Linus sums his problems up nicely when he tells him, "Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest." He doesn't get any Christmas cards, no one listens to him while he tried to direct the Christmas play, his little sister wants tens and twenties from Santa Claus, and he picks a tree that needs some serious love in order to be appreciated. Not only that, but the whole gang (even Snoopy) ridicule him when he drags it in. Throwing him some zingers like:
- "Boy, are you stupid Charlie Brown."
- "He's not the kind you can depend on to do anything right!"
- "You're hopeless Charlie Brown, completely hopeless."
Still, despite all the tugging-at-the-heartstrings moments, my favorite scene is when Schroeder plays Jingle Bells for Lucy. His tries to put her in her place with his "plink-plink-plink" version of the song, but it's exactly what she's looking for. "THAT'S IT!"
What do you love (or hate) about A Charlie Brown Christmas?