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Growing up in the middle of the Canadian Prairies with a choice of one television channel left you grateful for what few Christmas specials came along. While my parents looked forward to Dean Martin's Christmas with the Gold Diggers, my favorite TV experience was A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The first of many animated Peanuts television specials, and one of the five that received television's highest honor--an Emmy Award, this simple 25 minute film is a poignant reminder of what Christmas is all about.
As Charlie Brown laments over the commercialization of Christmas and that general "let down" feeling over the whole experience, Lucy offers some psychiatric counseling--in exchange for a nickel. "You need involvement," she tells her bald friend, and proposes he direct their Christmas play. Finally, it looks like Charlie Brown will be in the spotlight.
But the light dims quickly after ol' Chuck tries to put Christmas spirit into the production while everyone else is happy dancing to Schroeder's jazz piano tunes. When Lucy expresses her belief that Christmas is run by a "big eastern syndicate," Charlie Brown becomes more determined that his production not fall prey to the commercial trap. Suggesting a Christmas tree may bring the proper attitude, the crew excitedly agrees and provides explicit instructions--get the biggest, bestest aluminum Christmas tree to be found.
I know just how Charlie Brown feels when he and Linus go shopping for that tree. I felt it the other evening in the toy aisle of a discount store. With visions of my children's desires dancing through my head, I battled between buying plastic action figures or trying to help my family understand the season's real meaning. Braver than most of us, Charlie Brown makes the right (but ultimately unpopular) decision by rejecting the flashy metal creations in favor of a pitifully small real tree, in need of a good home.
The reaction to his humble choice literally sets the stage for Linus to remind us all, straight from the Bible, why this celebration exists. A Charlie Brown Christmas, beautifully penned by the late Charles Schulz, is available on VHS or DVD. Both formats also include the sequel It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is rated Not Rated:
Cast: Peter Robbins, Chris Doran
Studio: (pictures (c)1965 United Features Syndicate)