Why do I like A Charlie Brown Christmas? I’m sure nostalgia plays a part, but the main reason this short film is one of my favorite Christmas movies is because of the music, characters, and themes.
To begin with, I really like the music. The tunes are catchy and are among the few jazz pieces I enjoy listening to. Above all, I like when the children sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” at the end of the film. Interestingly, CBS almost didn’t air this Christmas special in 1965 because CBS executives thought people wouldn’t like or understand the jazz music (Slife). In spite of these predictions, audiences loved the movie, and it won a Primetime Emmy award and was nominated for a Grammy award (“A Charlie Brown Christmas”).
Another part of the appeal of A Charlie Brown Christmas is the characters. Although CBS executives didn’t like that the characters were voiced over by children, this actually makes the characters real and endearing (Slife). Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and Sally act and sound like children and make the story fun, entertaining, and yet somehow thoughtful. When Charlie Brown desponds about how Christmas is being commercialized, I can relate, for what was true when the show aired in 1965 is still true today. Lucy is her usual bossy, worldly-minded self, giving out psychiatric help and chasing dreams of real-estate. Solemn Linus drags his blanket about and doles out wisdom that deserves to be heard by more than just his peers in the film. Schroeder pounds away with dedication at his piano, and Sally tags around after Charlie Brown and Linus, exasperating and embarrassing them as she busily composes a letter to Santa Claus.
What I love most about this film, however, are the themes. Although Charles Schulz may not have been a Christian, his work often rings with truth, and this story contains some of the best examples (Schulz 305). Through the characters’ actions and words, Schulz highlights the problems plaguing modern Christmases, particularly commercialism, and he explains “what Christmas is all about.”
As the story opens, Charlie Brown tells Linus, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.” Of all the characters, Charlie Brown seems to be the only one who understands that something is wrong about how everyone is celebrating Christmas. Are Christmas lists, cards, plays, and presents what make Christmas wonderful? Or are they reminders of a greater wonder, the Son of God born in Bethlehem, the greatest Gift the world has ever known?
“A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965 TV Special): Awards.” Imdb.com. 24 Dec. 2015 <www.imdb.com/title/tt0059026/awards?ref_=tt_awd>.
Schulz, Charles M. The Complete Peanuts: 1950 to 1952. Ed. Gary Groth. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 2004.
Slife, Joseph. “Charlie Brown Almost Didn’t Get to Celebrate Christmas in Prime Time.” Worldmag.com. 2 Dec. 2014. 24 Dec. 2015 <www.worldmag.com/2014/12/charlie_brown_almost_didn_t_get_to_celebrate_christmas_in_prime_time>.