When you think of the iconic Christmas specials one of the first, if not the first, that comes to mind has to be A Charlie Brown Christmas. It is most likely the best suited for repeated viewing and in all likelihood holds a special place in the heart of the masses because it’s the one you can most closely identify with.
Think about it: this special probably connects to adults more so than children. Not only is Charlie a character with anxieties and worries but he has developed some of the same observations about Christmas that we do over the years: its become too commercial, it’s a hassle, etc.
The discussion of the commercialism of the holiday is very on the head but it also allows for the easy transition from a secular to a religious story. At first, there is only concern for the fenestration: gifts, decorations, trees and the like. Eventually the true meaning is allowed to burst forth.
It is a very brief but also very powerful intercession of the religious in this tale wherein Linus recites the story of the Nativity. Linus in many ways ends up being the hero of this tale because he is the first to change his mind on Charlie’s modest tree choice, and then, he relates the true story of Christmas.
Of course, the carols in the film are also religious and a breath of fresh air. It’s a fact that many of the memorable Christmas specials feature original music but just as often specials fall flat on their face in their attempt to create something new. Here we get the simple, tried and true and beautiful throughout, whether it be in carols or story choices.
This special succeeds because it is exceedingly human, and like the season, gives us a glimmer of hope for the world annually and that is why it is a timeless classic.