How The PEANUTS Continually Help Us Celebrate the Real Christmas Story
By Diane Howard
Holidays continue to bring out some of the best on television. On November 30, ABC7 Chicago announces “It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown” on ABC television. ABC7 also shares a Charlie Brown video report and announcement. This 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is celebrated first with a retrospective followed by the animated classic movie. This report reveals why Craig Schulz, original creator Charles Schulz’s son, thinks interest in his father’s “Peanuts” has endured for so long.
“I think the themes and the emotions, you know, we all feel those things,” said Schulz. “We’re all there when Charlie Brown loses. We all lose a lot more in life than we ever win, so I think we can really relate to them, and I think we all have a lot of Charlie Brown in us. I know I do.”
Originally, television executives didn’t know what to think of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as they were first shocked over the jazz music selection in a children’s cartoon, and many also thought the show was too slow. Lee Mendelson, who produced all the Charlie Brown specials, however, knew Charlie Brown and “The Peanuts” always stood a strong chance.
On November 30, USA Today reports, “50 years in, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ remains timeless.” Patrick Ryan states. “For many of us, ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ is as synonymous with the holidays as ice skating, school pageants and finding the perfect tree. It’s a gift that TV viewers have been unwrapping since Dec. 9th, 1965, when the animated special premiered.”
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” first appeared on CBS, where it stayed until ABC acquired the Peanuts classic (along with “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” that have also been long-running specials). “A Charlie Brown Christmas” has endured for half a century. This holiday season “The Peanuts” are seen on the big screen in “The Peanuts Movie,” which has earned $116.8 million.
From the Movieguide.org article “Ten Wise Lessons from Peanuts,” Moriah Dee states, “The characters have been beloved for generations. They each have little hidden moments of wisdom within each movie, television special and comic strip. Charlie Brown learns to work through his disappointments, Lucy learns that sometimes it’s okay to be nice, and Sally learns about unconditional love…”
In a Gospel Herald article, Julie Brown Patton also reveals insights about Christian principles that we learn from “The Peanuts.” She quotes Charlie Brown from the current “The Peanuts Movie,” where Charlie Brown shares the heart of Christian redemption when he says, “It’s not often that you get the opportunity to start over with a clean slate.” Patton also quotes Charles Schultz in reference to Charlie Brown, “God’s grace never changes. It doesn’t matter if we ever do kick the football, or if we fall down every time we try. He’s always going to be there.” Patton again quotes Charlie Brown from the current “The Peanuts Movie” as he’s peering up at the night sky, “One of those stars is my star, and I know that my star will always be there for me, like a comforting voice saying ‘don’t give up, kid.'”
TV historian Tim Brooks says, “Charlie Brown has always been part of the fabric. It doesn’t seem dated. You wouldn’t know when it was made, really…it’s a reminder of constancy and tradition. If you think about it, we don’t change the ornaments on the Christmas tree every year, and these are the ornaments on America’s Christmas tree. These things are comforting around this time of year, and it’s hard to make new ones.” Lee Mendelson, producer of the Charlie Brown specials, has said, “Charles Schulz said one time, ‘There will always be a market for innocence in this country.'”
For over a half-century The Peanuts have helped us celebrate Christmas essentials. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Linus says, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights, please:
‘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 afraid. And, the angel said …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…suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”