Charlie Brown holiday specials feel like a hug

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 1:18pm

NOSELL

Pixy

To say that this past week was stressful is an understatement. I found it difficult to focus on anything, whether it was homework or watching a lecture for more than 30 minutes. But recently I’ve rediscovered something very special: the Charlie Brown holiday specials. I know these are important parts of the holidays, but for whatever reason I had completely forgotten about them — until now.

It is wonderful that there are three specials for three notable holidays of the fall and winter (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas), especially because they’re perfectly spaced out. In October I watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” and this weekend I watched “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” I thoroughly enjoyed both and was smiling the whole time through. 

I’m used to watching Disney-Pixar movies where the animation is crazy detailed and creepily realistic. Charlie Brown is the opposite of this, but to me, it’s still incredibly immersive. Movies like “Monsters Inc.” and “Toy Story” are gorgeous and comforting in their own right, but Charlie Brown feels particularly nostalgic. Its simplistic animation is whimsical and endearing, and I think part of Charlie Brown’s everlasting charm. There’s a reason Charlie Brown has remained a favorite for so many after all this time. It’s rather obvious what makes these specials so delightful, but since I hadn’t watched either of them in so long, I was surprised at how much I still liked them. The animation and color palette are beautiful and feel like they’re right out of the comics. That silly spirit is captured so well through the icons that are Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, Snoopy and more. They exist in a world where their parents’ voices are replaced by a muted trombone. These specials are solely from the perspective of children. This adds to their dreamlike quality, making them truly feel like an escape. 

One thing that absolutely defines these specials is Vince Guaraldi’s music. Guaraldi initially composed for Charles M. Schulz for a documentary about the Peanuts comics called “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” and since then he has become integral to the Charlie Brown legacy. After watching the specials, I found myself putting the soundtracks on while I studied because they’re so peaceful. 

I also appreciate how short these specials are. At 30 minutes each, watching one of them is not a big commitment. Finding time to watch anything is difficult, and especially at times when focus is hard to come by. During election week in particular, anytime I tried to sit down and relax I was instantly distracted by my phone to check the polls. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” is only 30 minutes, and it goes by so quickly! As soon as December comes, I’m going to watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and I highly suggest that you do too. 

We’re all unsure what these coming months will look like. This semester has been so different from what it should have been, and I know I’ve been trying to find ways to make things feel normal. Full of nostalgia and joy, these Charlie Brown specials are a sure-fire way to lift anyone’s spirits, and who doesn’t want that?

Daily Arts Contributor Judith Lawrence can be reached at judelaw@umich.edu.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.

For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.