October 27, 2009

It's the Best Cartoons Ever, Charlie Brown!

My wonderful husby e-mailed me at work today to let me know that "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" will be airing tomorrow night, and would I like to watch it with him?

This was a very sweet gesture, but also one he knew he didn't have to make.  You see, every year I make it a point to watch "The Triumvirate" - the aforementioned "Great Pumpkin"; "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and of course the mother of them all, "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

As a kid, I LOVED these specials!  The first and foremost reason is definitely the music.  Even as a kid, I could appreciate the fantastic jazz by Vince Guaraldi and Ray Charles on vocals (especially "Little Birdie", from the Thanksgiving special).  Back then, of course, you couldn't download any song you wanted so you would have to wait ALL YEAR to hear that one song.  It was something I actually looked forward to all year long.  I also loved (and still do) the quiet philosophy and melancholy that the shows exude.  I recall wondering why, even though I loved the shows, I always felt a little 'far away' after they were done.  I never felt that way about Rudolph or Frosty - nostalgic, yes, but not melancholy.

The first thing I do every Christmas season is spark up the holiday section on the ol' iPod (it doesn't have the same ring as "haul out my Christmas albums, does it?).  I love all types of holiday music but my favorite disc BY FAR is the soundtrack to "Christmas..."  From the first piano notes of "O Tannenbaum", I get a little farklempt (yes, I'm speaking Yiddish while referring to Christmas music.  What can I say - I'm multi-cultural).

For many years the Charlie Brown Christmas special wasn't aired in the Green Bay market because the downtown Appleton holiday parade pre-empted it. So in '88 my dad videotaped it for me while I was in college (they were already living in Madison). I still have it, 21 years later, old ads and all. I don't have a way to play it anymore but I'll keep it until the tape is brittle. And yes, I know I can get it on DVD (probably even Blu-Ray) but there's nothing quite like the 'event' of watching old holiday specials live.

I could go on and on about how much better these specials are than, say "The Transformers Save Christmas".  And I'd be right.  I feel bad for these upcoming generations and what they'll feel nostalgic for because in my opinion, nothing will compare to these 30-minute masterpieces.  If it's been awhile since you've seen them, I highly suggest giving them another try.  I can all but guarantee that you'll love them.  We can all relate to the messages and I can think of no better way to ring in the holiday season.  You may even feel farklempt yourself.

Thank you Charles Schulz & Bill Melendez, wherever you are.  And thank you, ABC, for continuing to run these wonderful shows (it's not quite the same as when CBS aired them and you got to hear the "Special Presentation" music and Dolly Madison commercials, but it's great nonetheless!).

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