I was one of the little kids who watched its debut way back in the day. 🙂 Many years later, it’s always the first of the Christmas shows I pull out to enjoy each December.
Around the time of its 40th anniversary, I read quite a few interesting pieces about its production. Since A Charlie Brown Christmas has been so beloved for so long, it’s hard to fathom that this little show almost never saw the light of day.
So to help mark the 50th anniversary of this sweet program, I’m re-posting “the rest of the story” which appeared in our blog 10 years ago:
The story behind the special is interesting and a good example of how “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Charles Schulz, a religious man, wanted the show to convey the real meaning of Christmas. It’s a testament to the popularity of Peanuts, which had been featured on the cover of Time Magazine that year, and creator Charles Schulz, that the program was ever made.
It seems television executives hated almost everything about it. First and foremost? Too much religion! Remember Linus on stage reciting the story of Jesus’ birth straight from the Bible? In an interview with The Minneapolis Star Tribune, producer Lee Mendelson recalled the reaction of CBS executives who said, “The Bible thing scares us.” Schulz insisted, however, and the scene remained.
It’s been reported that the network brass also disliked Vince Guaraldi’s jazz soundtrack, the fact that real children were used to voice the characters, and the lack of a canned laugh track.
Fortunately, despite their many reservations, execs allowed production to move forward and the show eventually hit the airwaves – to a hugely popular reception. It won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award, and of course has gone on to become a holiday classic.
All these many years later, preparations for Christmas aren’t complete in my home until I’ve watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. For me, there’s nothing quite like seeing the spotlight on Linus as he clutches his security blanket and delivers that wonderful excerpt from the second chapter of Luke. You know what happens next. He turns to his friend and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
As we dive headfirst into the holiday hustle and bustle, the baking, the decorating, the parties, the shopping, the school concerts – it’s easy to become absorbed by it all! During this season of Advent, may our focus remain on the manger in the stable at Bethlehem ….like Linus said, that’s what Christmas is all about.
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!