Debuted in 1965
Plot in 3 Sentences: Charlie Brown is struggling to find the meaning of Christmas and takes on the task of directing the school Christmas play in order to get involved in the holiday. When none of his friends seem to have the Christmas spirit either, Charlie gets frustrated. But Linus explains the meaning of the holiday (as written in the bible) and everyone comes together as friends to celebrate and sing a carol at the end.
Fun Fact: This special marked the first time that children were hired to voice child characters in an animated show. Those roles were usually filled by adults.
Bonus Fun Fact: This special also killed off the aluminum Christmas tree industry. Just two years after the special aired for the first time, throwing shade at aluminum trees, the previously popular trees were no longer being manufactured.
My thoughts: Gosh, it’s hard to capture a nutshell opinion about a special that’s been a part of Christmas for my entire life. And there’s probably not much I can tell you about this one that you don’t already know. It broke tons of new ground and everyone thought it was going to be a disaster, especially when they insisted on keeping the religious aspect in after many people tried to talk them out of it. Of course, Linus’s speech is an emotional high point in the show that still resonates with me even now as a non-religious person. The special is funny, it’s touching and Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy soundtrack is required Christmas listening at our house. In many ways, it set the standard for animated holiday specials and yet there are surprisingly few tags or common Christmas tropes to be seen here. It’s a superb classic.
Individual Superlative: Best Dance Moves – Come on, admit it. You have a favorite of the kids’ dance moves and are inclined to break into it every time you hear ‘Linus & Lucy’. For me, it’s the one with the head bop from side to side.
Want to Watch it? A Charlie Brown Christmas is available in just about every format available and it still comes on network TV every year.