Merry Christmas! In the spirit of the season, True Classics will be doing a number of reviews of some of our favorite Christmas movies. This is not exactly the beginning of that series, but I have to say A Charlie Brown Christmas is still on my list. It’s a great Christmas movie, but that’s another post.
Trying to think of a good Therapy Thursday Christmas movie led me almost immediately to this one. After all, Lucy gives psychiatric advice, right? In all seriousness, though Charlie Brown walks through several of the most common themes that people find distressing. Well, that’s his job, isn’t it? And we love him for it.
Charlie Brown spends the movie trying to find out what Christmas means. Everyone has an opinion. In the end, Linus gives a beautiful rendition of the Christmas story- but it doesn’t end there. In his searching, Charlie Brown finds a sad, lonely Christmas tree. It was his job to find a wonderful tree, but he decides that he likes this one, “and besides, I think it needs me.” In that very moment, he finds his own meaning for Christmas, even though the other children find his tree a great disappointment. Good grief.
While he searches for the meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown feels depressed. He doesn’t see meaning, and he doesn’t feel he belongs anywhere- the story of his life, literally. In the end, however, everyone helps decorate his tree. He has a “family” of sorts- and the tiny tree, through hard work and some cartoon magic is truly beautiful. In truth, everyone loves Charlie Brown, even if they don’t really show it.
This is iconic, really. Most people know about Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. We call small trees “Charlie Brown trees.” People buy them purposefully. The character Charlie Brown has saved small trees everywhere- quite an accomplishment for a depressed animated character.
Christmas, especially these days, means exactly what we believe it to mean. A Christian holy day. A day for family. A season for giving, where people remember that altruism might be for the greater good (a time when people might actually care about the greater good). A time to be thankful and help those less fortunate. A time for forgiveness or making changes. A day for magic. A day to remember those you love and those you’ve lost.
Christmas seems empty to those who have found no meaning in it. Well, that’s true. Most things are empty if you find no meaning. Charlie Brown shows us that. But, since we can ascribe any meaning we like, and Christmas means what we think it means, the sky’s the limit. Christmas shows us that we can have any environment we want, if we choose to make it that way. So, like Ebenezer Scrooge (jumping stories here…) can we choose to keep Christmas all year?
So, Merry Christmas, whatever it means for you, and enjoy the time, however you spend it.