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December 3, 2015 / Angela Sylvia

Animated Distractions: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Ah, Christmas season. That wonderful time of year where we gather together to watch TV holiday specials.

I have a lot of holiday favorites. Rudolph, forever and always — I still remember a year when a snow storm cut out the cable partway through, and my brother and I started losing our minds. Elf is a newer one that I feel the need to watch every year, and I’ll always get a little emotional when the Grinch’s heart grows two sizes.

One I know I always watched as a kid was the Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, mostly because it was on every year, and like Rudolph, it was just something that you watched. I read the comics and watched the other cartoons as a kid, so I always liked this special, with the soft, iconic music, the sarcastic jokes, and the absurd seriousness of little kids. (“I never eat December snowflakes. I always wait until January.”)

Now as I get older and become less enamored of the Rudolph special (apparently the North Pole is just a collection of intolerant jerks) I appreciate A Charlie Brown Christmas even more. Compared to others, this show is soothing, again with the music, but also because it doesn’t fall into some of the trappings of a lot of other specials, like a big cheesy musical number, and other things that would ring too false today. (I recently found out that Charles Schultz prevented the network from adding a laugh track. Ugh.) But even more, I find I can really relate to the sentiment of the show, and with Charlie Brown’s attitude about Christmas.

Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.

I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.

I’ve mentioned before some of my ongoing issues with anxiety, and the holidays, despite my love for the food and the atmosphere and the people I get to see, do a lot more to exacerbate my emotional problems than help them. Trying to fit in time with multiple friends, two different families, spending money, not getting nearly as much work done as I’d like (Anne Lamott says that “December is a month of Mondays,” and she is not joking around) all adds up to me feeling as if someone is lightly choking me for a few weeks. I’m anxious, a little depressed, and sometimes, like Charlie Brown, I struggle to feel the way I know I’m supposed to feel.

Recently I’ve learned how to better cope with my anxiety; I knit, or I exercise, or I separate myself so my brain can slow down. And I manage to enjoy loads of things about the holidays, like all of these annual specials. But, sometimes, those feelings that aren’t supposed to be associated with this time of year crop up, and that’s when, like Charlie Brown, I have to find something little and sweet to remind myself what this time of year is all about.

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2 Comments

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  1. sabrinafedel / Dec 3 2015 10:02 am

    The absurd seriousness of little kids-that is such a great description, and I think lies at the heart of why Peanuts is such a classic. Schultz tapped into that absurd seriousness so keenly.

    • Angela Sylvia / Dec 3 2015 10:47 am

      Lucy wants real estate. Sally wants 10s and 20s. Linus might turn his blanket into a sport coat. They aren’t saying a joke, and that’s the whole joke. It’s great.

      This is why his comics are still funny.

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