A Charlie Brown Christmas on WLIW21

Christina Knight | December 9, 2020

A Charlie Brown Christmas premieres Sunday, December 23 at 7:30 p.m. on WLIW21, broadcast only.

Feeling down about the commercialism of Christmas, Charlie Brown becomes the director of the gang’s holiday play. Can he overcome his friends’ preference for dancing over acting, find the “perfect” tree, and discover the true meaning of Christmas?

I loved this Peanuts gang Christmas television special so much growing up, that I was devastated if I somehow missed its December broadcast. Back then, every TV show was “one-night only.” Now, I listen to composer Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas year-round. The bright piano riffs of “Skating” and cooing children’s voices in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” utterly relaxes me.

Too bad it doesn’t do the same for the special’s main character, Charlie Brown, who is just a child, but often troubled. His face is often drawn with a single straight line for his mouth and parenthesis-like curves on the sides of his eyes, like ripples of worry. It’s Charlie Brown’s earnest concern for the well-being of others and his search for meaning that gets me. He always means well. The potential he sees in his scrappy little Christmas tree conveys that he sees the good and purpose in every person, too.

Charlie Brown’s lack of unbridled enthusiasm and assuredness makes him stand out among children’s cartoon characters – Chuck’s most emphatic outbursts are those of frustration: the “Augh!” when Lucy pulls the football out from underneath his swinging foot. His creator, cartoonist Charles Schulz, once described his own life as being “one of rejection,” according to the Charles M. Schulz Museum biography page on Schulz.

Happily, Chuck’s got an alter ego in his best friend: his dog Snoopy, who is confident, cool, and always game to try on adventure with different personas, such as the World War I Flying Ace.

A Charlie Brown Christmas premiered in 1965 and it has a surprisingly long shelf life and appeal. This year, Apple TV acquired rights to the “Peanuts” catalog from the Charles Schulz estate. But in November it announced that PBS stations could show commercial-free versions of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on November 22 – and – the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on December 13.

If you haven’t watched these Peanuts holiday specials in years, or ever, now is the time to experience the “old days” of appointment viewing (no streaming, folks). See how to tune-in to WLIW21.