Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Santa Has Had Enough!

Caption: "Santa has clearly had enough, after a 13 hour shift at Feldman's Discount Appliance Barn. By secretly applying a 250 volt cattle prod to the unsuspecting hindquarters of his guests, St. Nick realizes that he can cut down significantly on the chronic Santa problem of "lap overload". Seen here, in the green coat, 4 year old Susie was the first to feel the jolt, while her brother Sam, age 6, is caught right at the moment of "prod-contact". Still to understand the implications of electric shock applied to pants is sweet Sara, age 10."

"Isn't There Anybody Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?"

As long as I can remember, I have been watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas". We will watch it again this weekend, as is our family tradition while decorating the Christmas tree, along with "White Christmas".

Yesterday, I spotted a well done article in the LA Times about the popularity of this wonderful little tradition, and I felt a pang of warmth for a show, and a character I remember fondly. Growing up, I always felt I identified with Charlie Brown - the round headed kid who never got the attention of the pretty red-haired girl, always missed kicking the football when Lucy pulled it out of the way, and who pitched for the worst baseball team in town - the team with a dog playing shortstop.

It seems that "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the home run of television Christmas specials, and made over $5.75 million last year. I find this fascinating. In a world of MTV, reality TV, and the Internet, this simple little 20 minute cartoon still stands very tall in the holiday television landscape, 40 years after it was made. No GCI, no Pixar here. Not even a laugh track, Charles (also known by friends as "Sparky") Schultz would have nothing to do with it. So what is it that is so endearing about this show? For me, it has been the clear proclamation of the gospel, the story of the birth of the Savior. To wit, from the LA Times article:

"Schulz, a Midwesterner who had taught Sunday school, wanted Linus to quote a passage from the Bible about the birth of Jesus to present the "true meaning of Christmas." His collaborators worried it might feel preachy."I was dead set against it," Melendez, now 89, recalled during an interview at his Sherman Oaks office. "It was too religious, too dangerous."Melendez has never forgotten Schulz's response: "Sparky said, 'Bill, if we don't do it, then who will?' "

And so there you have it. An honest, simple man who drew comics brought to us a story that has become uniquely part of our culture. For 40 years. I will always get a lump in my throat when Charlie Brown, at the height of his frustration with a rebel Christmas play cast yells, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about"? And then, Linus responds, "Sure Charlie Brown, I can tell you what
Christmas is all about".

Thank you Sparky Shultz, for bringing you Midwestern sunday school morality into the world. And, for a post-modern person's view of all this....look here. Remarkable how history repeats itself.
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