Fifty-five years ago today “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted and Christmas specials, along with Christmas trees, would never be the same.
Charlie Brown may have always come across as being the underdog, but that was always the reason you cheered him on. Whether he was trying to kick the football or just trying to fit in, he always seemed to get the short end of the stick.
When Charlie Brown is made director of the Christmas play in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, you feel that ol’ Chuck has finally come around. He’s finally made it. Being director of a Christmas play is a big deal. Even if your dog is playing all the animals and the script girl is a bitch.
So when Chuck and Linus are daunted with the task of getting a Christmas tree, the last thing you’re thinking is he’s going to fuck it up. And yet he does. Because of course. He’s Charlie Brown.
Somebody had to take the misfit tree. Just as someone had to take the misfit cat, the one that was the smallest in the litter. It was there for someone to take.
As Charlie Brown points out: “This little green one here seems to need a home”. Yes, and you’re the one who’s going to give it a home, Chuck. Even against Linus’s objection, Chuck lugs that little branch back to the theater and much to everyone’s chagrin, proudly places it on the stage. Of course we all know what happens next.
And in true Charlie Brown fashion, Chuck leaves with the tree, feeling bad for himself and his tree. But the tree doesn’t know any better. It’s just glad to finally have a home. Then when he attempts to decorate it, he causes it to wilt and declares, “I killed it. Everything I touch gets ruined.” At that point Chuck walks off, probably to go down a bag of chips or yell at Snoopy, just to make himself feel better. You just cannot help but feel for Chuck at this point in the show.
And because it’s Christmas and they all feel guilty for once again making Charlie Brown feel like a piece of shit, all the bratty kids come along, probably looking to taunt Chuck even more. Instead they come upon the tree and join together to decorate the little thing, miraculously turning it into a glorious sight.
As Linus points out: “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” Right, Linus. And thanks for giving up your blanket to wrap around the base of it.
And then Charlie Brown comes back, because he’s a glutton for punishment, and in his astonishment he doesn’t know what to say and everyone feels really awkward so all the punky kids just shout out “MERRY CHRISTMAS, CHARLIE BROWN!” and break into “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”. As if that’s really what Chuck wants to hear in the very sentimental and shocking moment.
So however you can watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas” this year, on DVD, Apple, PBS, YouTube, whatever, be sure you watch it, enjoy it and cherish the moments that have entertained us for the past fifty-five years and will live on to entertain many more generations to come. No matter what the tree looks like.