After a week of cleaning and work, the house is ready. Now to prepare my heart and mind for the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. While it might sound odd, watching A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my most important advent events. This week I will be sharing what this classic Charles Schultz television show has taught me. But today, let me explain how it all began.
In my family, it is a well known fact that I love A Charlie Brown Christmas. Despite not having specific memories of watching it as a kid, I know I did. It is familiar and comfortable, funny and heartwarming. So, if I didn’t grow up with the tradition of watching it, where and when did the ritual begin? For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. Did it just evolve or was it rooted in something more specific? I have been trying to figure this out for many years. My memory for such things is not great. Then, dawned on me. It wasn’t until I was an adult and could see with adult eyes that watching Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang became one of my most important Christmas traditions.
A Grown-Up Tradition
I was shocked to finally piece together the truth. Although I watched as a child, the specific tradition as it has come to be practiced was one I developed on my own as an adult.
It all began when, as a newly single adult, I had to figure out how to be alone at Christmas. The temptation was to be sad and pout because “everyone” else had family with whom they spent the holiday. My family lived half way across the country and travel for Christmas was impossible. So, I did the next best thing, I decorated my little apartment and watched something that reminded me of home. It was a difficult but crucial time where I grew up and started learning how to be an adult.
As I remember it, I decided to replicate the experience of being in a movie theater. Except for the glow from the Christmas tree and television, the room was dark. I curled up on the sofa with a blanket, something to drink and my little dog, Penny, who loved to burrow under the blanket with me. For thirty minutes I was transported back to the safety and security of home. It was a magical experience.
For many years, with childlike anticipation, I scoured the TV guide looking for when it will be broadcast. I planned my week around the special event. Part of the experience was watching it as it was being broadcast. In the days before we had access to VHS, DVD, a bazillion cable channels or streaming programs at any hour of any day, if I didn’t watch it the night it aired on network television I had missed it for another year. This made the ritual sacred.
Transition of Traditions
I tried to pass this tradition on to my daughter and grandchildren. It didn’t take. Their worlds are different and they will create their own traditions. They will always think of their Mimi when they see anything related to A Charlie Brown Christmas, but it doesn’t hold the same significance for them. And that is ok. My husband doesn’t get it either. So, I am back to having this sacred ritual by myself. And this, too, is ok. I think I will choose one day in December and make that my annual A Charlie Brown Christmas Day. It will be a day filled with anticipation and celebration. For thirty minutes I will be in charge – the lights will be low, there will be warm beverages, and snuggling on the couch with my dogs as I travel back in time to be reminded about the true meaning of Christmas. My family is welcome to join me…but being alone is ok too.