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You’ll Be Okay, Charlie Brown

Did you know that the CBS executives who first aired “A Charlie Brown Christmas” expected it to flop?

Instead, the prime time holiday special based on George Schulz’s popular comic strip was a huge hit. It’s shown every year since it first aired in 1965 and has become a favorite across generations.

Many people think that the show is about the commercialization of Christmas and the holiday season in general. That definitely is a running theme.

However, Paul John Scott, writing at the Star Tribune, has another take on what “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is all about:

If… you listen to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with your eyes on the road and the DVD screen pointed to the back of the minivan, there is something about its remarkable opening passage and a handful of segments that follow that jump out at you. They have little to do with the commercialization of Christmas or the true meaning of Christmas, but everything to do with the things we are tasked with overcoming if we are ever going to express the love we really feel for one another.

Scott also provides this penetrating insight into the mind of Schultz:

Schulz, who died in 2000, was both sentimental and hardheaded about childhood. He was wistful about memories, but also keenly aware of the barbed comments, aggression and slights that made us into the secretly frightened grown-ups we all went on to become. Though his faith was Christian, his embrace of suffering in the struggle for self-acceptance necessary to express love feels almost Buddhist.

Self acceptance as the core of self-love. Self-love as the foundation for expressing our love to others. These are wonderful, inspiring messages.

I think Schultz hit the nail on the head when he saw the damage caused by hostility and negativity.

How many of us grow up thinking we are damaged goods due to the destructive messages of family and friends? It is no wonder that the success gurus of today teach the importance of healing yourself from within before you can correct your life on the outside.

I used to think that at some point you “grew up;” that you reached a time in your life when you finally found yourself, latched onto the optimum career, and “made it .” At some point I caught on that life is really a process and that, while you do reach milestones, the journey doesn’t end while you are alive.

This realization has rejuvenated my enthusiasm for many things, most particularly my life insurance sales practice. It is good to every now and again become “born again” both personally and professionally.

I think one reason why the Charlie Brown shows are still popular after 50 years is that they drive home this eternal message.

(And yes, I do remember the first episode. As a matter of fact, I applied my drawing talents to sketching the Peanuts gang for my grade-school classmates. They loved it).

Enjoy “A Charlie Brown Christmas”: