It’s 8 p.m. on a Thursday night. You sit in the living room working on your mountain of homework to be completed by the end of the week. Your mom turns the television on, but it’s December and the regular programming is not on, instead you’re taken back to your childhood as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” appears on the screen, followed by “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales.” An hour later you’ve tossed your homework to the side, laughing in pleasant surprise how at how much you’re enjoying these movies.
This was an experience I had a few years ago, and I’ve since devotedly checked the TV listings in October, November, and December to know the dates of Charlie Brown’s holiday specials.
I think that when we’re older we can’t imagine a children’s show containing anything other than childish humor, and we dismiss the idea of finding something funny now. Although if you take a second to look at it, there’s plenty to enjoy even as we’re older. I mean, the writers had to throw something in to keep our parents sane.
I was shocked when I saw “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tales,” the best Charlie Brown Special in my opinion, for the first time in years. The characters are dramatic in a way that I actually feel like we can relate toas teenagers.
Sally, Charlie Brown’s little sister, represents the same fears we all have sometimes of embarrassing ourselves. After writing her letter to not Santa Claus, but Samantha Claus, she returns distraught to Charlie Brown, “There is no Samantha Claus! The kids at school all laughed at me! Why didn’t you tell me?” As we all would, she puts the blame on her brother for not telling her.
Snoopy is that odd family member we’ll never understand. How can you not crack up when he dresses up like Santa to receive donations on the street? Which he does only after he has Charlie Brown, for some reason, walk him to the location, even though he seems very capable of getting their himself, given his other miraculous abilities for a dog.
Lucy represents our worst (but also kind of our best) qualities. She’s bossy and greedy. My favorite Lucy scenes are when she speaks sing-songily to her crush Schroder, he promptly ignores her, and she screams at him and he does a backflip away from her due to the force of her shouts.
Linus is our socially awkward inner nerd. He likes the new girl in class, but cannot for the life of him understand her. To his credit, she keeps changing her name. When she says it’s “Jessabelle,” Linus–the smooth talker that he is–responds by saying, “Jessabelle was the evil wife of king Ahab in the Old Testament. In Second Kings it says that her servants threw her out the window and she landed on her head.” His crush then understandably changes her name to Susan.
Charlie Brown is our depressed alter-ego. In “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” he goes to Lucy who’s running a “Psychiatric Help” booth (with no qualifications of course) for 5 cents per customer. Charlie Brown claims to be in “sad shape” because of the holidays and explains, “I feel depressed. I know I should be happy but I’m not.” Lucy’s solution is to figure out which phobia he has and lists many long scientific names for fears and their meaning. Charlie Brown comes to the conclusion that he has the fear of everything. Is that a #mood or what?
Overall, these shows don’t simply remind us of our childhoods. They offer genuine comic relief, only amplified by the drama of the characters who can really be more teenlike than childlike.
Sally: “I’m ruined for life! I have nothing to live for! Why aren’t you listening to me?! What are you doing with that box?”
Charlie Brown: “Wrapping your christmas present.”