Watching the holiday special might feel like a warm and fuzzy December tradition, but the movie itself is a far cry from today’s candy-coated holiday cheertaculars (I’m lookin’ at you, Mariah Carey).
Charles M. Schultz’s creation, which first aired on December 9, 1965, is a perfect chance to wallow in some good ole yuletide nostalgia. Sure, it has its seasonally appropriate share of caroling, light religious moralizing, and dancing dogs, but they’re mixed in with larger, weighter themes: the commercialized slog of Christmas, and the constant presence of not-always-so-loved ones.
But maybe that’s why we love it. From the movie’s opening line (Charlie: “I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel.”) to its close (Lucy: “Charlie Brown is a blockhead, but he did get a nice tree.”), Schultz acknowledges the need of both kids and grown-ups to feel a little blue sometimes.