Meeting Christmas with Charlie Brown

This week, I’m looking at favorite Christmas movies.  And near the top of the list is A Charlie Brown Christmas, for many, many reasons.

The music is good, of course.  It’s often very funny–one of my favorite moments is when Lucy freaks out because she was kissed by a dog.  Snoopy’s resulting “Bleah” is perfect.  And there’s always something cute and fun about a Peanuts special.

Even more, though, it’s the most insightful twenty-five minute cartoon I have ever seen.   It somehow seems to gain wisdom every year.

It’s insightful right from the beginning.  In the first line of dialogue, Charlie Brown tells Linus something to the effect of, “I know I ought to be happy, but I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”  Linus tells him that he’s the only person who could take a wonderful season and turn it into a problem.  But the beauty and wisdom of it is–Charlie Brown isn’t the only one.

I mentioned on Friday that I get fed up with the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”  The truth is, I get fed up with the concept.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas.  I enjoy a lot of things about it.  But it gets overwhelming too.  There’s something in this culture that sends out a pounding message for a month: Be happy!  Be jolly!  Isn’t everything wonderful, wonderful, wonderful?  Isn’t it just the best best best day of the year?

The truth is, unless you’re seven years old, it very probably isn’t that wonderful.  I see that, and I don’t even have a reason to be sad, like people who are alone, or who lost loved ones.   Then of course there are people who don’t celebrate Christmas.  For all of them, it has to be a much more upsetting message than I find it to be.

By all means, be happy on Christmas.  But there’s nothing wrong if we’re not delirious with joy.  My deep thanks to Charles Schultz, for telling us that it’s okay to not be THAT happy.

Part of my problem with that pounding Christmas message is that often, mixed up with it more or less overtly, is the message: BUY!  Buy everything!  Storm the malls!  Spend money!  I like giving gifts, and of course I like getting them too.  But the commercialization of the holiday is downright disturbing at times.  Which gives another reason to love Schultz’s story about a scraggly little Christmas tree and an unhappy boy who stand up against the glitter and glitz of the commercially-driven holiday, taking inspiration from Chapter Two of Luke’s Gospel.

I have to admit, I hear Linus’ voice whenever I hear that passage in Luke, and I’m probably not the only one!  I think this is one of the few Christmas movies that brings the religious side into it, aside from direct Nativity stories.  It’s a beautiful moment; I’ve heard that the networks didn’t want Schultz to include it.

It’s a short film full of beautiful moments.  It’s a cute, sometimes silly movie.  It’s also full of insights, inspirations and good messages about what Christmas is all about.

6 thoughts on “Meeting Christmas with Charlie Brown

  1. Dennis

    Yes, Linus’s short rendition from Luke’s Gospel says it all. And to think that network officials wanted to cut that part. Too controversial, in their eyes. They wanted a Peanuts Christmas special, but not one that dared to mention that Christmas might actually have something to do with the birth of Jesus. Fortunately, Charles Shultz by that time was a force to be reckoned with, and was able to tell the network that it would get its Peanuts special his way or not at all. Thanks, Sparky, for standing up for your convictions and giving us a great classic.

  2. That’s funny! We just watched A Charlie Brown Christmas yesterday, for the first time in my whole life (the only ones who had seen it were my parents) and I thought it was good 😀 At some parts all of my siblings and I were laughing, a few times almost hysterically. And they thought Christmas was commercialized in the 1960s…
    I’ve never actually watched any Charlie Brown cartoons, though I’ve read some of the comic strips. Now I want to watch some more of the cartoons 🙂

    1. Dennis

      Laura, if you want to see more Charlie Brown cartoons, you have absolutely got to check out “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” It’s the best one after the Chirstmas special.

  3. All I can say is, I couldn’t agree with you more. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is THE definitive Christmas special to get to the heart of what the season is all about and should be about, even more so than that other holiday favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

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