“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” -Charlie Brown
Did you know that the 12 Days of Christmas refers to the 12 Days AFTER Christmas? It’s true! …I think. I’m pretty sure I heard that somewhere before and I’m not just using that as an excuse to do Christmas blogs after Christmas. Anyway, I have decided that this year I’m going to be looking at some Christmas specials and movies for at least 12 days, possibly longer if the Christmas spirit stays with me. I am going to be looking at some old familiar favorites and some things I have never seen before. And for our first Day of Christmas, we’re gonna take a look at a classic special that airs on TV at least once a year. Does it actually hold up or is everyone looking at this one through rose colored glasses? This is A Charlie Brown Christmas.
It’s the Christmas Season and Charlie Brown is feeling depressed. He feels like Christmas has gone too commercial for his liking. Lucy suggests that he needs to feel more involved in the season, so she offers him a job as the director for the Christmas play. Charlie Brown tries to do his best, but things go wrong as he tries to search for the true meaning of the holiday.
Now, this is a great special. The jokes are still funny, the animation is still decent, and the message is certainly still on point. However, I do have a few small complaints about it. The first complaint has to do with the story’s structure. Like a lot of Peanuts specials, this one just seems to be a string of small vignettes tied together by a central-ish plot. Seriously, every five seconds feels like one of the comic strip comes to life, happens, and then they characters just move on. It’s honestly a bit jarring to see. It makes it seem like the characters aren’t focused at all on what’s happening right in front of them. Still at least the vignettes are funny and being unfocused IS pretty believable for little kids like the Peanuts gang.
The second thing that bothers me is EVERYONE IS A JERK TO CHARLIE BROWN. This has always bothered me. He tries his best and he screws up sometimes, but that doesn’t give everyone a license to be a jerk! Nobody gives him respect, nobody is nice to him except for Linus, but that’s to be expected from his best friend. If I was him, I’d be depressed too. Heck, the only bit of niceness he gets all episode is from Lucy of all people, the biggest bully in the show. Yeah, did you ever notice how nice Lucy is through most of this special? He gives him a job to help his depression, she demands that the other children give him respect, she tries to help him when everything starts going wrong. Sure, she still gets mad at him eventually, but I was surprised by how nice she was to Charlie Brown through the majority of this thing.
Despite those two small flaws, this is still a good Christmas special. Maybe it’s because it’s been around for so long, maybe it’s because it always comes on TV around this time of year, but I just have to associate this film with my childhood Christmases. And despite the jerk-ness of some of the characters, the special still has the right heart and as they sing Hark! The Herald Angels Sing at the end, my heart fills with Christmas cheer. So, yes, this special still holds up to this day.
To all who celebrate, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, and whatever else their is. I’m going to go and spend some time with my family.