The Charlie Brown Christmas Special is one of the greatest Christmas specials on the planet. It teaches us how to deal with holiday cynicism, commercialism, and that if you give even the worst looking, most annoying tree (or person) a little bit of tender love and care, that they can blossom into something beautiful. Another bonus is that it teaches you how to direct that Christmas play starring children you’ve been hired to do. (Spoiler: cast it, put on jazz music and let them figure it out themselves while you go out and buy a tree and contemplate the meaning of life, why you’re so depressed, and Christmas).
Here are a few things I’ve learned from A Charlie Brown Christmas:
1) Directing a play is really stressful
These kids are seriously high maintenance actors. Linus sees no reason to learn his lines, has selective stage fright, and clearly has some method training because he won’t take off his blanket/Shepherd headdress even when he’s offstage. Frieda just cares about how curly her hair is. Pig-Pen won’t take a bath. Schroeder just wants to play the music he wants to play even if it doesn’t match the show, and Sally uses rehearsal time to flirt with Linus. The only one who seems to have it together is Lucy, who tells all the actors that if they want to be in this play they’ve “got to take direction” and have “discipline” and that she she “ought to slug” them. If you’ve ever worked on play in real life, it’s exactly like this.
2) When you’re depressed about Christmas, “You need involvement” – Lucy
Lucy, the 1960s equivalent of WebMD for Charlie Brown, has some A+ advice for her depressed friend. Christmas time can bring up depression, which is understandable considering all of the pressure that is put upon us to feel happy and cheerful this time of year. It can be hard to focus on the excitement of trees, Santa, and tinsel when there’s a refugee crisis going on, terrorist attacks happening, and the commercialization of pretty much everything. While everyone is stuffing their face and cool with it, Charlie Brown tries to figure out what the point of it all is. Not to worry Charlie, I totally get it. I’m a professional at trying to find out the point of my existence. I’ve been doing it since I was seven. My mother stopped taking me to see Santa at the mall because I treated him like a shrink. Thanks to you Charlie, I learned that it helps if you go see the psychiatrist (after all, it only costs five cents) and to get involved with a bigger project. Volunteering and doing some charity work can be a great way to feel like you’re involved with something outside of yourself. Other great options include organizing events at work, or even simply helping your family out or being a sounding board for a close friend.
3) Treat everyone with respect no matter what they look like
Pig-Pen and Freida get cast as the innkeeper and the innkeeper’s wife, and she gets upset with his appearance, which prompts this conversation with Charlie Brown:
Charlie Brown: Look, let’s rehearse the scene at the inn. Frieda…
Frieda: I can’t go on, there’s too much dust. It’s taking the curl out of my naturally curly hair.”
(Ugh, what a diva. I don’t ever want to work with her.)
Charlie Brown: Don’t think of it as dust. Think of it as maybe the soil of some great past civilization. Maybe the soil of ancient Babylon. It staggers the imagination. He may be carrying soil that was trod upon by Solomon, or even Nebuchudnezzar.
Pig-Pen: Sort of makes you want to treat me with more respect, doesn’t it?”
(right on Pig-Pen)
Frieda: You’re an absolute mess. Just look at yourself.
Pig-Pen: [looks at himself in Frieda’s mirror and smiles] On the contrary, I didn’t think I looked THAT good.
Yes! Pig-Pen! Haters gonna hate. You rock.Nothing and no one ever looks as bad as other people say they do.
4) Christmas music comes in many types
Beethoven makes wicked Christmas music, and so does crazy fun jazz that makes you dance! So put that in your pipe and smoke it Frosty! Here are a couple of links to non-traditional Christmas music, including an awesome Literally, Darling Christmas playlists!
- A Very Indie Christmas Play List
- Top Ten Non Traditional Christmas Songs
- The Famous Peanuts Song that Makes You Want to Stand Up and Dance No Matter What
- Some Beethoven To Get Your in a Happy-Dappy Christmas Mood
- There’s Always This Blink 182 Song I Dig
5) Be straight to the point with your X-mas list
Thanks for this one Sally.
Sally: “Dear Santa Claus, How have you been? Did you have a nice summer? How is your wife? I have been extra good this year, so I have a long list of presents that I want. Please note the size and color of each item, and send as many as possible. If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself: just send money. How about tens and twenties?”
6) Pantaphobia is the fear of everything.
Did you know that? I didn’t. Also hypegiaphobia is the fear of responsibility. Ailorophasia is the fear of cats. Climbacaphobia is the fear of staircases. Lucy knows her stuff. She also tells us that you’re only famous if your face is on a bubblegum card. Beethoven’s face is not on a bubblegum card, so what the heck did he ever do?
7) The ripeness of snowflakes matters behind the scenes.
O’ TANNENBAUM! (Did I use that correctly? It’s German for Cowabunga, right?)
There is an actual time of year that’s better to eat snowflakes. Apparently, if you’re going to eat snow, take Lucy’s advice and wait till January. You can always add sugar like Pig-Pen. Be careful about eating yellow snow though. They don’t show any of it in The Christmas Special, probably because in the 1950s, people didn’t want to see that on television, but I’m sure Snoopy provided ample yellow snow.
8) Don’t overanalyze and look for problems
“Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem.” -Linus
I do this a lot. Sometimes the point of something doesn’t actually matter and you should just enjoy it while it’s happening. Linus is a good reminder to stop trying to figure everything out.
9) The tree lesson
Charlie Brown buys this tree because he thinks the tree needs him, not because he needs the tree. If that is not the most beautiful Christmas time lesson about how we should all care for one another, I don’t know what is. Plus, at the end, when all the kids stop making fun of it, and start taking care of it, that little tree becomes BEAUTIFUL. This is a way better/more clever anti-bullying plot line than the one in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Seriously, screw that red-nosed freak.
What are your favorite Peanuts Christmas Special moments? When do you think the best time of year to eat snow is? Tweet us @litdarling and @RachelResnik to chat about it!
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