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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Countdown to Christmas #23: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Without a doubt, A Charlie Brown Christmas is my favorite Christmas TV special, though it's difficult for me to explain exactly why. 

A lot of it definitely comes from the jazzy soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. I know many people criticize it as being too sad and melancholy, but that's one of the things I love about it, and in fact, the special on the whole. It's one of the few Christmas movies/specials that acknowledges the bittersweetness that goes hand in hand with all the holiday cheer. For many, Christmas can be a reminder of what they're missing, of loved ones gone or traditions soured. Even the Christmas cheeriest of us can feel twinges of sadness throughout the season as we anticipate it's demise. And no matter how swimmingly your holiday goes, there will always be a letdown after the big day has passed and all the planning and preparations have come to fruition.

It's certainly appropriate that Charlie Brown, the hard luckiest of heroes, is the star of the most melancholy Christmas special, but the show isn't all doom and gloom. It is about, like the Community episode it, in part, inspired, the search for the true meaning of Christmas. While the story seems to settle on a decidedly Christian answer to that question via Linus' recitation of bible scripture detailing the birth of Christ, for me, A Charlie Brown Christmas has always come to almost the same conclusion that "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" does: that the meaning of Christmas is that Christmas has meaning, and that meaning can be found most anywhere, whether in the bible, or the prize winning decorations of a dog house, or the gathering of friends, or a sickly Christmas tree, or Charlie Brown's restored faith in the holiday.


  1. @Falen: eh, i've never been a peanuts fan

    Somehow, that doesn't surprise me, Comrade.

    I used to check out from the library this big hardbound collection of Peanuts strips ("Peanuts Greatest Hits" or something like that); I firmly believe that book along with this special and the Halloween one will teach anyone all they need to know to get through life.

  2. I was 9 years old in 1965, when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted. Even if it were not a firmly imprinted part of my childhood, I would still love it. I find the children’s voices playing the characters charming. The comedy bits play well for all audiences, and Snoopy, especially, set my whole family laughing. I LURVE the music, all of it! I don’t mind the choppy edits and little glitches. I think it is the standard by which all of the other Charlie Brown specials are measured, and all of them (in my opinion) are found wanting in comparison. I’m so glad I was not watching the year ABC saw fit to chop it up to make more room for whatever lame show they had on the schedule that same evening. And I’m also glad that the idea of including a laugh track was overruled, as that would have ruined it. To alter or update it in any way would be an outrage, and I’m so glad that this little sugar plum came along in my lifetime.

  3. @Marebabe: I LURVE the music, all of it!

    Me too. It's definitely my favorite component of the show.

    I think it is the standard by which all of the other Charlie Brown specials are measured, and all of them (in my opinion) are found wanting in comparison.

    The only other one I really enjoy is the Halloween one. It's not quite as good as this one, but pretty close.

  4. I showed this special on the last day of class. It was a great way to end the semester (and of course, I didn't have to try to do something lame on the last day of class :)

    Merry Christmas! (a bit late) and a Happy new Year!

  5. @Rebecca: Merry Christmas! (a bit late) and a Happy new Year!

    Same to you!


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