A lifelong Peanuts fan, my all-time favorite is A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Did you know the show almost didn’t get made?
Among the many things television executives didn’t like was that wonderful scene in which Linus takes the stage, ever-present blanket in hand, and recites from the Gospel of Luke.
Producer Lee Mendelson later recalled the reaction of the guys in the suits over at CBS: “The Bible thing scares us.”
(They also didn’t like the idea of using jazz music for the sound track, voicing the characters with real children, and the absence of a laugh track. Clearly, these execs were batting 1000!)
Happily, Meldelson and Charles Schulz held their ground on all counts, prevailed, and production moved forward.
The show went on to win both an Emmy and a Peabody, and of course has become a much-loved classic. The music Vince Guaraldi wrote and performed for A Charlie Brown Christmas is universally recognized.
Most importantly, this little program’s message hits the nail on the head – especially in today’s hyper-commercialized environment, with Christmas decorations up in stores as early as September and Christmas ads running before Halloween. (Ha – and Charlie Brown thought it was bad in 1965…!)
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”