I’m not a Christmas guy. There’s just something about the twinkling lights and heart-warming carols and abundance of saccharine sentimentality that makes me sick. If it were up to me Christmas would have its name changed to “Annual Dead of Winter Fun Day”. It would become a yearly event with a no-holds-barred, winner-take-all sleigh riding demolition derby. But it’s not up to me. So I’ve got to find something about the holiday that I think is valuable and worthwhile before I go Scrooge McGrinch on everybody’s ass. So far, that one thing that gets me through the winter holiday is A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s not a film in line with action-based Christmas movies, but it’s worth every minute.
This a movie reduced to a pop-culture footnote. It has become a running joke in movies, television, and music.
That’s a damn shame. The movie is an endearing and personal look at the dejection a perennial loser feels during the glitzed-out holiday. Everybody in his life is so caught up in light display competitions, gift giving, and putting on a pretty show that they forget the humanity inherent in the season.
This is when we cue that famous Christmas tree, a bedraggled and lopsided malformation of pine. Charlie Brown insists that this tree is the perfect one for the holiday play, even though his peers cut him (and his tree-picking skills) down to size in a vicious attack. Cue the heart-warming return of decency to these children and a mild victory for ol’ Charlie Brown.
Spoiler alert ahead for A Charlie Brown Christmas, a movie that’s more than fifty years old.
My favorite part about this movie is what they get wrong. Charlie feels that the shitty looking tree is perfect how it is, and his peers feel that Charlie Brown is a blockhead for thinking like that. When the whole gang rallies together they decorate the tree and, hey, it turns out that the tree can look pretty damn good when they decorate it.
There’s a metaphor there if you missed it. The weak-ass Christmas tree represents Charlie Brown; when Charlie chooses the tree and shows it proudly to the other children, he makes a great argument for why the tree is lovely. His friends disagree until they can dress the tree up and it looks nice. Like a tree that fits their standards.
The truth is that that tree (and Charlie Brown too) are just fine how they are. They might not be beautiful, but they don’t need to be. It’s not about beauty; it’s about about character.
Maybe you’ll join me during my yearly ritual. Cozy up with a bottle of wine and watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. But instead of celebrating that tree getting all glamoured up, let’s toast to those crooked and out-of-place trees that don’t need to be decorated to be beautiful.