50 Years of A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown ChristmasTonight will be the 50th showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. I met my oldest friend Will in the 8th grade because of it. He had tape recorded the audio of the show and was typing it up because he wanted to do a production of it. Mostly, he just wanted to perform Linus’ big speech, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.”

We did eventually get it performed and made $12 and some odd cents that we gave to the Optimist Society. I forget how it happened, but Charles Schulz’s secretary contacted us telling us that it was a copyright infringement and that if we did that again, we would need to license it. It was all done very nicely. But it does rather show the silliness of copyright: kids doing their own theatrical version of A Charlie Brown Christmas and giving the money to charity should not be seen as a threat to an artist’s livelihood. But that is a discussion for another day.

I rather liked it when I was a kid. Now all of those Charlie Brown cartoons drive me crazy. The voice acting is terrible. But there’s also something a bit too sweet about them. And then there is all the religious stuff. The interesting thing is that by the end of his life, Schultz certainly could not be considered a believer. Of course, many people try to push against that, because there was a lot of Christianity in his early strips. But whatever he was at the end of his life, it wasn’t a Christian — except perhaps of the universalist variety (and even I can consider myself one of those).

A Charlie Brown Christmas is incredibly heavy handed. It always reminds me of my aunt who used to say in a disappointed tone that we don’t remember the “reason for the season.” At the time, I didn’t really understand what she meant. I mean, I understood that she was saying that we should remember it was all about the baby Jesus. But I didn’t understand it in the full evangelical sense of the lament that Christmas should not just include Jesus but that it should be just about Jesus. I find it incredibly silly today, because if Christmas were just a religious holiday, no one would notice it. It be right up there with Flag Day.

The contrast in A Charlie Brown Christmas is between the commercialism represented by Snoopy and the “truth” spoken by Linus. And that truth is from Luke, chapter 2. And if it is really the reason for the season, it’s pretty pathetic:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

It’s just the announcement of a savior. We are not talking the Sermon on the Mount here. There is nothing edify about it. And the truth is that by Christian theology, there is nothing special of Jesus’ birthday. In fact, among many early Christians, Jesus was just the receptacle for the Christ, who entered him at some later time — most often when he was baptized.

The big holiday for Christians should be Easter. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that matters. Yet I never hear Christians complaining about the Easter Bunny and the commercialization of Easter. And I think I know why. Christians covet Christmas’ popularity. They want it for their religion. It isn’t about theology; it’s about PR. And it is sad.

But here we have 50 years of A Charlie Brown Christmas — nothing short of full out Christian propaganda, Yet we have to hear each year about the war on Christmas. Imagine the outrage that would take place if a single television show presented Islam in a similar light!

9 thoughts on “50 Years of A Charlie Brown Christmas

  1. It is fuzzy nostalgia for those who watched it as a kid. I literally don’t remember much about the religious stuff just that Linus blathered on about something something Jesus and then the kids went dancing. Oh and the tree, it was very sad because it was so small and forlorn yet somehow managed to get new branches when they put all sorts of decorations on it.

    My family has never been particularly religious since two are pagan, one was Catholic, I barely register as protestant and one of my sisters opposes organized religion (and yes it sounds like organized crime when she says it.) So we think the reason for the season is for Cards Against Humanity to get lots of money from gullible people.

    • I don’t know Cards Against Humanity. I realize that most people don’t see it as religious. But that is the problem. We don’t think about it. It’s just a given.

      • Cards Against Humanity is an awful game for awful people. Everyone I know in meat space loves it which shows, we are all awful people.

        The people behind the card game have Views on things like Black Friday and so this year they decided that their Black Friday special was to give away nothing for $5. They got $71,145. A third went to charity and then the rest is going to things like a suit of armor for one of the creators.

        As for why I didn’t see it as religious, probably because my family is not very religious and I don’t have the necessary connections when watching it?

        • We are running into the dictionary problem. I’m too removed from you young people. I don’t know what Meat Space is. Although I can kind of guess. Clever pun.

          • I have noticed that your slang is understandable to me but mine isn’t to yours. However I also noticed you don’t seem to mind learning new things so I probably will not stop using slang terms like meat space.

  2. I love the Peanuts cartoons (xmas, thanksgiving etc.) and it is not for religious reasons. I think it just takes me back to my youth. I think the shows reflect the world as we would like to see it instead of how it is. I also love the music of Vince Guaraldi.

    • Yeah, that’s what it is for most people. I still like the Thanksgiving one because of the Great Pumpkin. That’s a brilliant idea. I like Guaraldi’s music too. And the way Snoopy dances.

      This one is for Elizabeth:

      For reference, that’s Symphony No 40 in G Minor — one of Mozart’s greatest pieces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *