A Charlie Brown Christmas airs on ABC tonight and you should make sure to set aside 30 minutes of your evening for this kid and some important holiday lessons. Or at least DVR it so you can watch it later. Charlie Brown verbalizes a thought that many adults may feel uncomfortable admitting: he feels sad at Christmastime.
We have this movie on DVD and the kids love it, so we watch it all year. I bought the soundtrack to this holiday classic more than 10 years ago as an impulse buy at Starbucks. It came with a verbose CD cover detailing Charlies Schulz’s beginnings as a cartoon, how Vince Guaraldi wrote the score for the movie and some little-known facts about the story and why it’s important today. Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Charlie Brown.
For instance, did you realize all the characters are voiced by children? This was very uncommon back in 1965. It explains why the delivery of the lines is somewhat halted – they had to have the lines read to them and then recite them back because they couldn’t read yet. This small fact makes me love those little characters even more.
Of course I love the music, the sentiment that all we need is a little love (a thought that was voiced a good two years before the Beatles would spread the same idea) and the in-your-face concept that Christmas is truly about Jesus. But all throughout the story, Charlie Brown is struggling with feeling melancholy around this happiest time of year. I can appreciate the struggle.
The truth is that Christmas is no longer about ME now that I have kids. There, I said it. Before kids, Christmas was a time of leaving my apartment and going to my parents’ clean, decorated and full-of-food home. When I was younger, it meant loading up the car and driving out of town to my grandparents’ house. It was a different house that I could get lost in, wander around, play with my cousins, maybe ride a horse and one time it even snowed. It was magical.
Now, it’s about making it magical for someone else. Of course, it’s amazing to see my kids enjoy this time of year. We’ve already been on a walk around the block and a drive through some neighborhoods looking for lights. We had the Christmas tree up and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. This is a new record for me and I dedicate this fact to my husband’s hard work and our artificial tree. We took our picture with a mall Santa last night. It’s not even December yet.
We have a pretty charmed life (clearly). So why do folks feel down? I am going to attribute some of the melancholy to the music (gasp!). I love Christmas music and have been known to listen to it at any time of year. Who cares? If I like it, I’m going to enjoy it. It’s not like it has calories.
But have you noticed how depressing some of these songs are??
- “I’ll be home for Christmas (if only in my dreams)” – thanks for the reminder that my sister won’t be here for Christmas and that there are guys oversees without their families.
- “Have yourself a merry little Christmas/let your heart be light/from now on, our troubles will be out of sight” – thanks Judy Garland, now I’d like some time to sit alone in the dark to recover from this dreary rendition.
- “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart/the very next day, you gave it away” – this is so depressing, especially the version with Lea Michelle and her boyfriend, Cory Monteith, who died.
- “Bells will be ringing the glad glad news/Oh what a Christmas to have the blues/my baby’s gone,I have no friends/to wish me greetings once again” – oh my gosh. this is the worst.
Even some of the songs from my beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack get skipped over for the sake of my spirit.
The truth is, it’s ok to feel a little melancholy. I’m not a kid anymore and I am more aware of the hardships and realities of those around me. That’s good. A man I’ve known since kindergarten took his life three days ago. I’m sorry, I’m sure that was a shock to read. It was a shock to me as well. And I’m heartbroken for the life that could have been and those he left behind. But I am more heartbroken for the moment he felt so alone and like there was no other option. We were not best friends and we weren’t in touch. But he is in many childhood memories and it’s hard to wrap my mind around that dark moment that occurred this week and it’s a reminder that these times are not just hot cocoa and cheer for everyone.
The conclusion of Charlie Brown’s dilemma on what Christmas is about is answered by Linus. His friend recites the Christmas story verbatim from the book of Luke. Like, Luke, the book in the Bible. And it’s not some fuzzy allusion to a spiritual idea. It’s the actual words straight from the Good Book. Can you imagine that flying in a brainstorming session at ABC today? Me neither, but that’s for another blog.
But it’s not just the Christmas story, is it? Charlie Brown is cheered and goes home to decorate his tree just the way he wants. But one ornament brings the tree to the ground and he slinks off screen completely depressed again. How honest is that? How many times have I been going along feeling fine and then I stub my toe, or the walk in to a room that is a complete disaster, or realize there’s been a cup of milk in the back of the van that has developed a new kind of fungus and wham! I’m done. One small thing and I’ve lost my merry little smile.
So how does he recover? It takes Charlie Brown’s rag tag group of friends to surround him and support him and actually be there.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. I think about Charlie Brown too much.
Side note: These are school-aged kids. Where are their parents??? Anyway.
I hope you enjoy the movie, the simple word of the Lord and your family and friends this year. Maybe create a Pandora station playing uplifting Christmas songs. Reach out to someone who may feel alone. If you feel alone, comment below or email me at OliviaLPolk@gmail.com. I’ll come help you decorate your tree (if you don’t mind three kids coming along too).
Lastly, if you’ve read this far you deserve to know that tomorrow is my 35th birthday. I will be offering 35 percent off my 2018 hanging wall calendar in my Etsy shop for one day only on December 1. You can use the code HAPPYBIRTHDAYOLIVIA to get 35 percent off.
About the Art
I painted this one pretty quickly which is nice since I don’t get a chance to start and finish a piece with all the parenting I’m doing around here. She’s fun and simple. She’s decorating a tree inspired by A Charlie Brown Christmas. I wanted to paint her shirt aqua which isn’t a traditional Christmas color but it’s one of my favorites. I mainly painted this because I wanted to paint hair in this style.