Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmastime is Here!

If you know me at all, or have heard my phone ring ("Linus and Lucy"), or notice my blog profile picture or have seen my tattoo (!), you know what I was doing Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

Watching a little piece of imperfect perfection called "A Charlie Brown Christmas..." November, which was, I'll freely admit, weird. But, look, the best we're going to do is to get the Christmas season to start after Thanksgiving (key word: after), so even though it was a little early for The Greatest Christmas Special Ever, I'll take it. Besides, now I can watch it again, closer to Christmas. I have a copy. Of course. A VHS copy, in a box with frayed corners, because it's that old. I got it at a Shell gas station sometime in the eighties, for like five bucks with a fill-up.

I don't know how many times I've seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It came out the year I was born, so I often feel like it's my special special. (Because no one else was born in 1965, I guess--I don't know why my mind works the way it does).

I still laugh at the jokes. I still find them timely. Five cent psychiatric advice, a figure skating dog who can also play every animal in the Christmas play, a preschooler who simplifies her wish list for Santa to "cash--tens and twenties," a poor schlub who doesn't get any cards and picks a hagard Christmas tree, and a little prophet whose "trusty blanket" can perform all sorts of spacial miracles.

It is the little prophet who provides what I have to think is the greatest moment in all of TV--a moment that only happened because Charles Schulz was a very stubborn man. When Schulz got together with fellow animators Bill Melendez and Lee Mendleson to talk about the special, he broached the idea of having Linus read from the Bible. His colleagues Nobody had ever done that before. For Schulz, this was the point, and it becomes the central point of the whole show: the meaning of Christmas can get lost in a sea of aluminum trees "and presents for pret-ty girls."

So he said "If we don't do it, who will?" and Linus walked onto the stage at Somewhere-in-Minnesota Elementary School and recited six perfect verses from Luke's Gospel--King James version, because this is the one time when the King James trumps.

Want to see it? Click here.


Anonymous said...

I always make it a point to watch this show every year too! I love the Linus reading part. It helps me get through this increasingly commercialized season. It's good to remember what Christmas is all about...and it's not about retailers' profits.


Paul B. (Chicago) said...

To truly enhance the experience, play the soundtrack around your house for hours. Vince Gauraldi was some kind of genius. Nothing relaxes me more!

It _is_ the reading from Luke that truly pulls at my heart also Donna. According to Wikipedia, the executives wanted it cut.

People might also hate artificial Christmas trees, but there's moments of 60s-era art direction in the special that are also stunning.