An existential Christmas
BACKSTORY | On meaning, belief, and celebrating the birth of Jesus
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The Peanuts gang has both shaped and reflected American culture for 60 years (see “Charlie Brown’s Christmas miracle” in this issue). I recently asked several members of the group to reflect on their weighty legacy. Drawing on wisdom accumulated in books, TV specials, and of course, their regular appearances in the funny pages, this is what they told me.
Charlie Brown, your search for the true meaning of Christmas opened the door for millions of children to hear a message of hope each year. What do you think when you reflect on the role you played in that pivotal cultural moment? Why can’t I have a normal Christmas, like everyone else?
Christmas is arguably the most important day of the year. How do you prepare for the celebration? I’ve developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.
Sally, how are you spending these last few days before Christmas? I’m addressing Christmas cards. Aren’t they cute? Each one has a little bunny on it dressed up like a shepherd. Don’t say I’m not religious!
Snoopy, what’s your favorite Christmas memory? I remember last year about this time … it was 2 o’clock in the morning, and I was sound asleep … Suddenly, out of nowhere, this crazy guy with a sled appears right on my roof. He was OK, but those stupid reindeer kept stepping on my stomach!
Linus, things have changed a lot since you helped Charlie Brown, and the rest of America, remember what Christmas is really all about. Sixty years ago, people still told each other “Merry Christmas.” Now, all we hear is “Happy Holidays!” What do you make of that? There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people … religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin!
Perhaps, Lucy, you have some insight? In all of mankind’s history, there has never been more damage done than by people who “thought they were doing the right thing.” Five cents, please.
Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas special has sold 5 million copies, earning it quintuple platinum status (and probably a lot of money). What do you think of that, Schroeder? Money?! Who cares about money?!? This is ART, you blockhead! This is great music I’m playing, and playing great music is an art! Do you hear me? An art! Art! Art! Art! Art! Art!
Well, Charlie Brown, I’ll give you the last word. Oh, good grief.
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