Charles Schultz cast the gold standard of annual holiday classics with his 1965 creation of A Charlie Brown Christmas. This animated, made-for-TV special features all the familiar Peanuts characters, although Iíve always wondered why the comic strip was titled Peanuts and not Charlie Brown. Lucy, Snoopy, Schroeder, Linus, Sally, Pig-pen, and Woodstock all make appearances. However, the enduring popularity of this holiday classic stems not from its original storyline, but rather its vivid invocation of childhood nostalgia and memorable Christmas music. It seems everyone on earth has heard the song the characters sing in the closing credits, and itís become a Christmas classic in-and-of itself.
For those who need refreshing, because I donít know anyone who hasnít seen it, A Charlie Brown Christmas covers title character Charlie Brownís search for the true meaning of Christmas. When neighborhood friend Lucy dispenses her usual five-cent advice, she encourages Charlie Brown to take on the job of director in the school Christmas play. But none of the other kids take their new director seriously, and when Charlie Brown passes over several Christmas trees which he believes embody the commercial exploitation of Christmas, and brings back a sagging relic of branch instead, the other kids fire him as director. Meanwhile, Snoopy is involved in decorating his doghouse with colorful flashing lights and other knick-knacks in an effort to win first-prize in a Christmas decorating contest. In the end, the other kids feel theyíve been too hard on Charlie Brown, and fix up his tree into a brilliant display of Christmas beauty. Linus reveals the true meaning of Christmas by retelling a segment from the Gospels that recounts the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Charlie Brown is disillusioned when his idealistic attempt to decorate his humble Christmas tree ends in absolute failure. As a result, only a Christmas miracle can save Charlie Brown from the depths of holiday disasterÖ
One of the better parts of this television special is when Charlie Brown goes hunting for a Christmas tree. Some of the trees are aluminum, which you rarely see today, especially those trees with the rotating colored lights underneath. Simply put, A Charlie Brown Christmas is a breath of fresh air Ė a thoughtful, funny, and highly entertaining show which the entire family can enjoy. It connects parents and children through the shared experience of its annual holiday viewing, and parents donít have to worry about the foul language and adult content that so often permeates todayís television programs. Overall, A Charlie Brown Christmas is as close to perfect as a Christmas television special can be.
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