This was the first animated TV special based on Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip. There were other Peanuts animated specials that came later, even Christmas-themed ones, but this is by far the best.
Also, it was for this production that Vince Guaraldi composed the jazz classics Linus & Lucy and Christmas Time is Here.
I watched a short but very interesting documentary on this Christmas special the other day, and unsurprisingly, CBS executives were horrified when they saw such a blatant Biblical message in the final cut of the show. When the producers tried to talk Charles Schulz out of using Linus’s recitation from the Bible, Schulz reportedly said, “If we don’t do it, who will?”
They aired it, and A Charlie Brown Christmas received the highest ratings for any Christmas special ever made. Not only that, but it actually won an Emmy, and has been aired every year since it was first broadcasted in 1965.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: That kid with the perpetual dirt cloud emitting from his body has issues.
Throughout the movie we watch as Charlie Brown encounters various situations that aggravate his depression based on the confusing purpose behind Christmas and the commercial nature of the season: No one sends him a Christmas card, all his little sister wants from Santa is cash, and his own dog enters a contest to win money for decorating the doghouse.
Eventually Charlie Brown tries to direct a simple version of the nativity story, but the other kids are more interested in modernizing the play with dancing and jazzy music. And when he tries to restore the proper mood with an awkwardly simple Christmas tree, he’s mercilessly mocked for picking what appears to be the worst Christmas tree ever.
Hitting his breaking point, Charlie Brown cries out, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”
Lucky for him, Linus knew exactly what Christmas is all about:
Christmas brings joy because Christ brings joy.
“…joy, which shall be to all people.” – Luke 2:10