A few days ago, a woman I've recently started dating asked a friend of mine if he was as "anti-Christmas" as I was. This characterization probably stemmed from the fact that, a few weeks prior, I had told her that I didn't want her to spend any time in malls or online stressing over getting me a present. My family stopped going through the retail ordeal of buying presents for each other years ago, and it's a decision that feels smarter and smarter every year, especially when passing jam-packed stores filled with beleaguered shoppers. If she wanted to get me anything, let it be an experience that we could share together -- tickets to a play, a weekend trip, a nice meal -- or maybe a donation to Wikipedia or my favorite listener-supported podcast. I tend to be very careful about acquiring more stuff, so I don't need a book I might not read, a piece of clothing I might not wear, or a gadget I might not use.
But does that make me anti-Christmas? If it does, what is Christmas?
That's the question plaguing Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, one aspect of the holiday that has not only remained gloriously unchanged over all these years, but has actually grown in importance for me to the point that it now largely defines what Christmas is for me. Set to a magnificent, jazzy score by the Vince Guaraldi trio, A Charlie Brown Christmas follows Charlie Brown as he attempts to understand and alleviate his angst over the fact that the commercialization and materialism that has come to define Christmas (even in 1965 when the special debuted) has left him feeling depressed and confused about what the holiday means and how he is supposed to feel. It's an incredibly relevant, subversive subject given the fact that A Charlie Brown Christmas was obviously made and is aired every year by corporations, as well as how corporations have, with great force, redefined the meaning of Christmas -- a subject that was summarily ignored in subsequent Peanuts Christmas specials like I Want A Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown. But those are some of the many things that make A Charlie Brown Christmas so powerful, touching and fun.
Watch my ReThink Review of A Charlie Brown Christmas below.
And to see the real thing, free of charge, you can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas on Hulu below.
As an atheist who enjoys spending time eating with family and friends and other non-commercial aspects of Christmas, I hope all of you have a chance to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas regardless of what/if you celebrate this holiday season.
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