With all the classic holiday films and TV specials, it can be difficult to watch them all during the holidays. You might even get sick of them. Hell, if you flip on Lifetime or the Hallmark Channel, you could probably watch a new Christmas movie every hour on the hour from April through December and never take a break.
But, there are certain films and holiday specials that are the gold standard of Christmas viewing. Even if you don't like all of them, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," and Elf should be a part of every holiday tradition. I also would include a handful of other Christmas and holiday-themed films as well, but that's a list for another year.
To me, however, there is none that quite rises to the level of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and here's why.
5. It isn't preachy.
Yes, Luke 2 -- the most famous telling of the birth of Christ in the Bible -- is recited by Linus when Charlie Brown is trying to understand the true meaning of Christmas, but no one is trying to convert him. As Linus said, this was how he saw it, which is the point of the entire show. Just like spirituality, Christmas is meant to be personal, something that resonates with you. In his case, Charlie Brown is frustrated by the commercialism of the holiday and the loneliness that accompanies it. This is his struggle to find his place.
There have been very few cartoon characters cooler than Snoopy. From his 2nd place finish in the holiday lighting competition for the display on his dog house to his ability to mimic the animals around the manger, his was a brilliant character that was nearly as human as his owner and his friends. 3. It's only an hour long.
Say what you will for holiday movies, but they can be exhausting. At the same time, 30-minute TV shows feel a little abrupt. At one hour, this show clocks in perfectly giving you just enough holiday spirit without dragging on.
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2. "It's not such a bad tree after all."
Somehow, Charles Schultz managed to capture the entire spirit of the holiday season in a tiny twig that was loosing all its needles. I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of driving past Christmas tree lots on Christmas Eve and feeling a little sad for the trees that didn't make it into someone's home for the holiday. Charlie Brown's tree was a survivor and, as Linus said, "All it needed was a little love." Don't we all.
1. The soundtrack.
In what is probably the finest soundtrack to a television special ever created, the beautiful, at-time spare, jazz trio music with subtle children's choral voices created by Vince Guaraldi was nearly rejected by the producers of the show. Fortunately, they lost that battle and we not only got a beautiful soundtrack, but one of the most memorable Christmas albums of all time. "Skating" and "Christmastime is Here" are brilliant and create the perfect musical backdrop for the show.