If you had to pick one Christmas movie that you believes encapsulates the season, which would it be and why?
While I’m tempted to simply put “Die Hard” and walk away from my keyboard, I suppose there are stronger holiday oriented features. If we’re specifically looking at “Christmas” movies, A Charlie Brown Christmas is likely you best bet for seasonal viewing.
Created back when hand-animated prime-time TV specials were still a thing, this seasonal classic focuses on the adorably depressed Charlie Brown who in this feature has become fatigued with the over-commercialization of Christmas. As per usual, his seasonal depression only deepens as his friends and family engross themselves in the culture of the times and Charlie Brown is soon goaded into directing the school nativity play in an attempt to understand the “true meaning of Christmas.” Because his friends are assholes, they monopolize his time by attempting to turn the nativity play into a dance party. Thinking the play needs thematic inspiration, Charlie Brown decides they need their own Christmas tree. Since this is the tacky days of the mid-60s, his friends demand a big, shiny aluminium tree. Charlie Brown instead opts for the most depressing, dying tree on the lot. He brings this decrepit set piece back to the auditorium and his schoolmates laugh at him until he leaves, tree in hand, with a suicidal look on his face. Linus recites Luke’s Gospel, Snoopy wins a prize for best decorated dog house, and somewhere down-the-line Charlie Brown’s schoolmates realize how douchey they’ve been to the only bald kid in town. The tree undergoes an extreme makeover to fulfil its Christmas destiny and Charlie Brown manages to find the Christmas spirit.
Like most Charles M. Schulz’s productions, A Charlie Brown Christmas is smart enough to make an overarching point, but cute enough to not make enemies with it. Sure, it encapsulates the season well, but it also has an agenda that would rub most people the wrong way if released today. You see, the whole crux of this TV special’s argument is built upon a negative interpretation of a secular Christmas and Schulz’s own views on holiday commercialism. In his mind, the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ. He wisely uses satire instead of partisan statements to take aim at children asking for gifts, using the holidays as an excuse to party, and those not willing to recognize the season for what it originally was: a religious holiday. It’s a vaguely ignorant view that was common for the time of, but it thankfully doesn’t harm the production.
Oh, and before anyone attempts to crucify me for calling the “Keep Christ in Christmas” mentality ignorant, let me humbly remind you that Christ wasn’t actually born on December 25th. In fact, the first Christmas celebrations were in reaction to the Roman Saturnalia, a harvest festival that market the Winter Solstice and honoured Saturn, the god of sowing. Saturnalia was opposed by the more austere leaders of an extremely devote sect of Christianity and Christmas was developed to replace that holiday and worship Christ instead. To that effect, the New Testament actually gives no date or year for Jesus’ birth and I give no tolerance for people who ruin my rum and eggnog with religiously judgemental stares.
So how should you be enjoying Christmas? It’s easy really. Watch yourself some Charlie Brown, listen to some Nat King Cole, spend some time with your family, and eat whatever you damn like without a concern for calories. Regardless of your creed or level of spiritualism, this is a season of celebration and togetherness.