Linus lays it on the line about the true meaning of Christmas. Even as a non-believer, I couldn't escape the perfection in this stilted, childish, amateurish production. The writing, the plot, the atmosphere, the iconic images, frozen lakes, Christmas tree lots, old time school auditoriums, the fantastic build up and climactic recital of the Christmas story, and of course the beyond classic musical score.
A couple things. As I've pointed out, our 'war' on Christmas has been a long time coming. Charlie Brown's struggles show that this was already embedded in our culture in the glory days of those wonder years gone by. While much has been made of Schultz's own spiritual walk, that by the end he considered himself a secular humanist (though many who knew him suggested this was out of context of his rather complex mixture of faith and skepticism - which the next year's classic "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" would aptly illustrate), it's clear that at this moment in time, Schultz was letting young Linus speak for all believers including himself.
In college, I picked up a TV Guide Christmas special rating the great Christmas Programs. This was near the bottom of the top five. Why? Guess. It was TV Guide. Too much of that religion stuff, unlike the so much cooler "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (I also love), which, as the writer pointed out, avoided being too religious. I still remember that. Too religious? Agnostic though I was, I knew it was all based on the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus. I may not have believed it, but I knew it. How troubling it was that we could look at a clear fact and want to deny it simply because we wanted to deny it. We were supposed to be the rationale ones! Ah, but that is for another post.
For now, enjoy the wonderful diction of the youngster reading the KJV of Luke 2, and capture some of that magical, spiritual boost that even I felt all those years ago in my most fervent secularism. Fun note: Linus drops his blanket when he says "fear not, for behold..." The only time, to that point, he willingly drops his blanket - which throughout the special he goes to great lengths to defend. It's also worth noting that Schultz had a difficult time convincing the higher ups to leave the Scripture reading in. I've always wondered why, since we are told that even at that point in American history, we were still this button down, W.A.S.P. society. Who would have cared? Makes you wonder. Don't think I don't! Anyway, here is Linus, doing what Linus was drawn to do: