A Charlie Brown Christmas

Charlie Brown Christmas is the ultimate Christmas story of the underdog finally getting what is coming to him. And I don’t even mean Charlie Brown here. Of course I am using a little tongue-in-cheek, but seriously could Snoopy be any smugger? Obviously, the audience loves Snoopy and all his antics from showboating his skating skills to his famous dance to his theme song.

Charlie Brown is the most depressed kid around and his friends are of no help to him. Some of them make fun of him, including Snoopy. If Snoopy can one-up Charlie Brown, he does. He is unrelenting actually. Of course, we all love Snoopy; after all, he’s the dog we’ve always wanted. He’s the yin to Charlie Brown’s yang.

At the beginning of this 30 minute spectacle, Charlie Brown is feeling a bit of Christmas malaise. He admits that he doesn’t understand Christmas. But do any of us really understand Christmas? When the malaise hits, so does the mesmerizing melody of the Vince Guiraldi Trio’s “Christmastime is Here.” This instrumental follows Charlie Brown throughout the show. I actually really love this use of music to emphasize Charlie Brown’s emotions.  I can’t make it through a Christmas without hearing this song and for me it signals that the Christmas season has begun.

All Charlie Brown wants is to be included and to be thought about. And really, I think most of us want this too. After all, Christmas can be a tough time. We ache for Charlie Brown and his want for a Christmas card.

Lucy is so well….Lucy. She pretends to be a psychiatrist and is charging five cents for a diagnosis. She diagnoses Charlie Brown with the “fear of everything.” Her sign says “the doctor is real in…” but there is no time indicated. Ha! So cheeky! Then she gives him the ultimate gift of allowing Charlie Brown to be the director of the school play.

As a child I loved this show. It’s circa 1965 after all, but it wasn’t its epic graphics that I enjoyed; it was poor Charlie Brown and his plight to be noticed by his friends.

The Charlie Brown tree phrase was coined in this cartoon. Poor Charlie Brown and Linus are looking in a tree farm for a tree but all the trees are crazy colours. Charlie Brown likes the little barren tree (hence the Charlie Brown Tree) because it represents the Christmas spirit. This is the theme of the show…to find the Christmas spirit. This is what Charlie Brown is searching for, endlessly. This is what propels him to do the things he does. Once he shows his friends, they ridicule him for his choice in trees. At first he’s upset but then decides that he isn’t going to buy into “all this commercialism.” Charlie Brown arrives home to find that Snoopy has decorated his own doghouse and has won first prize.

Somehow Charlie Brown feels that Snoopy has outsmarted and outplayed him again. All Charlie Brown can do is put one Christmas bulb on his anemic tree and the tree cannot even carry the weight of that one bulb and droops over. Charlie Brown walks away humiliated. But his friends decide that Charlie Brown was right and that what they all needed was Christmas spirit. They take off Snoopy’s decorations from his doghouse and decorate the little tree. They surprise Charlie Brown will the little tree and start singing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” And in the end, this is the Christmas spirit of togetherness and acceptance that we all need.

~Jennifer Ward                                                                        

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