holiday specials / nostalgia / television

The Power of Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown seasonal specials always air on Tuesdays.  This is a law, handed down unto us from the television gods. The Charlie Brown Christmas/Halloween/New Years/Easter/Election Day/Grandparent’s Day Extravaganza Special must always air at 8pm on a Tuesday.  This Tuesday must be at least two weeks before the holiday, in question as to fit into the hype of said holiday, but not detract from the actual holiday by airing during the period of time when one is looking for wholesome, quality holiday specials to watch.  To fill the void, ABC Family airs endless insufferable movies about Christmas shoes or Halloween capers.  This is the way we live now.

This is a very long way of saying that once again, I missed “Charlie Brown Christmas”.  But I knew it was coming and now I feel as though we can officially, as a group, start to celebrate Christmas.  Because I don’t actually need to see “Charlie Brown Christmas” to enjoy it or to reap its wholesome benefits.  Here’s why: I know that special by heart even though I’ve probably only seen it all the way through once.  But I know everything that happens during that half-hour, and I can hear Linus in my head, right now, telling everyone about the true meaning of Christmas. (If you would like to hear it for real, here it is.)  And the same goes for “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” which I actually did manage to watch this year because my mom called me.  And I realized that I’ve only seen that special all the way through once or twice, but I still have a creepy, six-sense type familiarity with it as well.  I mean, I own a Linus Van Pelt/Great Pumpkin play set.  And I think that Linus Van Pelt’s commentary that, “There are three things I have learned you  never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin” are some of the wisest words ever uttered by someone on television, cartoon or not.

This all leads me to wonder if the Charlie Brown Specials – particularly of the Halloween and Christmas varieties – have been fused into our cultural DNA.  I also wonder if this only applies to people of a certain age – those of us in our mid-to-late 20s and 30s – who have parents of a certain age – in their 50s and 60s – who watched and enjoyed these shows with us.   Going beyond Charlie Brown, there’s a whole body of Christmas specials, that seem to be watched, enjoyed, and spoken about mostly by people my age.  This, of course,  makes me curious as to whether or not these shows have an appeal beyond our particular demographic or if they’re aired every year because there are so many of us who like the television (it’s my friend) and becuase our nostalgia is so powerful and marketable. 

And in case you were feeling extra nostalgic now that I’ve brought it up, here’s “A Couple of Misfits” song from the stop-action “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

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