The holiday season without “A Charlie Brown Christmas” would not be the same. This beloved Christmas special first debuted on television in 1965. It is the longest running cartoon special ever, holiday or otherwise. The special teaches about commercialism that is typically associated with Christmas and the ‘true’ meaning of Christmas.
With another Christmas having past, the relevance is as strong as ever.
When the special first came out, it was a new concept, really. The idea of commercialization was not new, of course, but having children address it, and teach adults a thing or two, was new. Oddly enough, when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted, it was sponsored by Coca-Cola, and there were actually Coke references drawn into the cartoon, but those have since been cut out.
In this Christmas special, for those who have never watched it, Charlie Brown is given the opportunity to be the director of the Christmas play. Why? Because, as he complains to his classmate, Lucy Van Pelt, he just cannot seem to get into the Christmas spirit. She believes she can help, and asks him to direct the play.
Charlie Brown accepts, but directing the rag tag bunch of performers proves to be a very frustrating struggle. He cannot seem to get them to work together, so the cast of the play sends him out to buy a tree. They tell him to get a good one, which at the time of the special, meant an aluminum tree, which was all the rage back then.
Unfortunately, Charlie believes that an aluminum tree is just part of the commercialization of the season, and he comes back with a real tree, which everyone frowns upon. His attempt to restore the proper spirit with his forlorn little fir Christmas tree simply fails. At that point, Linus offers Charlie Brown help. He explains what the real meaning of Christmas actually is. Back then, this really resonated with the audience, those who were buying their aluminum trees, and those who were not, of course. And through the years, it has continued to be relevant.
The Charlie Brown Christmas special is especially relevant today. Its poignant message, seen through the teachings of children, about how we have gotten so far away from the true meaning of Christmas, loving one another, being thankful for what we have, and looking for the things that really matter in our lives.
Each year, we have more and more advertising, more and more shopping, more and more push to buy now, buy bigger. In 2013, especially, when stores began opening on a holiday, Thanksgiving, for Christmas shopping to begin, we really need “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, and its message.
The message is so heart-felt, and the story remains touching today, no matter how many times we watch it. Linus Van Pelt delivers this message during the Christmas pageant, and it is beautifully expressed.
What will stay with viewers today, as it has since the beginning, in 1965, is the message’s simplicity. It truly does speaks volumes about the things that should, and do, matter to us. This is why “A Charlie Brown Christmas” may be the most beloved holiday special of all time.