This week, one of my favorite Christmas shows celebrated its 50th anniversary: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Airing on December 9, 1965, this holiday classic has taught generations life lessons about the true meaning of the season.
Lessons I’ve learned from A Charlie Brown Christmas:
Christmas Is Not About the Stuff
My mother-in-law always calls to remind us when a Peanuts/Charlie Brown special is coming on TV, and even gave us a Charlie Brown Christmas tree to decorate. It’s quite cute actually, even if we did manage to break the one red glass ornament that goes on it! The tree reminds us: The biggest tree isn’t always the best tree.
Having a Great Jazz Score Made This Show Pop
A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack has to be the quintessential holiday soundtrack and arguably the Best. Jazz. Score. Ever. The Grammy Hall of Fame agreed, and it was voted in 2007.
Did you know the Vince Guaraldi Trio wrote “Linus and Lucy” two years before the TV special? Additionally, Guaraldi had already written the music for an opening song but producers felt it needed lyrics, so his bandmate Mendelson wrote the lyrics on the back of an envelope in about 15 minutes. That song was “Christmas Time Is Here.”
My son sat at the piano tonight and taught himself “Linus and Lucy.” No, not the whole song-he’s 10 and hasn’t learned how to play both hands at the same time. But the fact that he worked on it for an hour says something about his tenacity.
Stand for What You Believe In
I heard an interesting fact about the making of the show: the show’s producers repeatedly tried to convince Charles Schulz to cut the scene where Linus reads from the the Book of Luke in the Bible, claiming it would be “too religious for television.” Schulz didn’t budge, and the scene remained.
Linus concludes his monologue: “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.” I am in awe that a TV show that celebrates Christ as the reason for the season has survived the test of time.
Linda Holmes makes a wonderful observation: the show “doesn’t only suggest Christmas is really about the Bible story; it suggests Christmas is also really about friends, dogs, cooperating, the beauty of humble things, singing out loud, and hope.”
I’d say that’s a beautiful legacy!