It’s hard for me to believe we’re at the end of another year. Looking back at 2014 and the artistic souls we’ve lost, I re-live joy, sorrow, wonderment, and childhood. Lost a little of my soul in 2014 but gained a new appreciation for what those souls gave to my life and the lives of others.
This retrospect is a beautiful reminder of the dedication, love and craftsmanship that goes into the creation of a film and the experiences we share sitting in a darkened theater. I love the movies (even built a website to celebrate) and the honesty of great actors.
“Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did not. The Grinch hated Christmas — the whole Christmas season. Oh, please don’t ask why, no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”
On December 18, 1966 “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” premiered as a television special and has continued to entertain and touch my life and the lives of countless children both young and old. It relates the tale of the Christmas plot of the mean ole Mr. Grinch to steal the joy of celebration from the residents of Whoville; it’s Seuss’ spiritual lesson for the true meaning of Christmas.
Print ad of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 1966
Narrated by the legendary Boris Karloff – also the voice of The Grinch – we are introduced to the world of Whoville and that nasty wasty Grinch.
Boris Karloff and The Grinch
You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch. You’re a nasty, wasty skunk. Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk. Mr. Grinch! [spoken] The three words that best describe you are as follows and I quote: [sung] “Stink! Stank! Stunk!”
In this version of the story, we don’t really know why The Grinch hates Christmas and the residents of Whoville. Just that his heart is 2 sizes too small. However in the Jim Carrey movie version of Dr. Seuss “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,”we see the flashback of The Grinch as a child and how because he looks different: green and hairy as an eight-year-old he is taunted and teased by his classmates.
For his crush, he makes a Christmas present and tries to shave his face but ends up with toilet paper stuck all over. Everyone laughs at him – including his crush – so he storms out the room climbing up to his mountain exile. Not seen for years, he becomes an urban legend. Flashing forward to The Grinch and his now adult classmates it isn’t hard to understand why Whoville isn’t his favorite town and therefore the Whos love of Christmas has become a thorn in his side.
So, The Grinch gets this inspired idea after seeing his dog Max get snow on his face that sort of looks like a beard. The plan becomes to dress up as Santa, sneak into Whoville and rip off all the houses of presents, toys and even a piece of cheese from a mouse. So low down. Hence “stink, stank, stunk!”
Poor Max wasn’t really down with the plan but was forced to play his part as a reindeer.
Enter my favorite resident of Whoville, Cindy Lou Who. I’ve loved her all my life. Her innocence and open heart is a testament to – as John Lennon once wrote: “All you need is love.”
Ah, but not even the innocence of Cindy Lou could discourage The Grinch from following thru with his wicked plan.
However, The Grinch would come to realize that Whoville is no ordinary town. Even without presents, toys or roast beast, Christmas would still come.
This timeless message of appreciating what you have in friends and family is a gift often lost in this world of envy and greed. Matthew 16:26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” Let’s remember the true meaning of Christmas not only during the holidays but every day of the year.
A Charlie Brown Christmas will always have a special place in my heart for its honesty, faith, humor and appreciation of a child’s intelligence. I’ve watched every year since its premier in 1965. I fell in love with Charlie and the Peanuts gang, relating to the familiar relationships we all had as children.
Charlie’s sad little Christmas Tree
Charlie Brown is the quintessential “nice guy.” Sweet, awkward and sincere. All the traits that guarantee a life of hell for an 8-year-old boy on the playground. In this musical special, Charlie is depressed about the commercialism of Christmas and seeks ways to enjoy the true meaning of the season; the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Charlie confides his feelings to his best friend Linus who’s also sweet, but also philosophical.
After Linus tells him to stop being so ” Charlie Brownie,” Chuck seeks the advice of his nemesis Lucy (aka Dr. Lucy). We’ve all had a Lucy in our lives. The kid who takes tremendous pleasure in the humiliation and torture of the sweet, awkward and sincere kid on the block. You know – Charlie Brown.
Charlie takes Lucy’s advice to become involved in a Christmas project and becomes the play’s director. However, his vision is the complete opposite of Lucy’s vision of becoming the Christmas Queen. (hey, don’t judge; what’s your fantasy?) Result, my favorite scene:
OMG!! The dance scene is hilarious. Everybody who’s ever seen this has their favorite dancer. I see myself as one of the twin girls with their head and individual hair strands swinging side to side. They look so happy and diggin’ the groove. I love it! My other fave is the little boy doing what I call the Frankenstein. His arms are out in front of him and he’s doing some sort of “running man” dance move. Go ahead baby, get your dance on!
For Charlie, the play’s a disaster. His decision for a Christmas tree being even worse; failing to bring any of the holiday spirit to Charlie Brown.
What a great tree!
I’ve killed it!
But ever faithful, his best friend Linus tells him what Christmas is all about and gives the most memorable soliloquy of my young life. (the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 8 through 14 from the Authorized King James Version)
I was raised in the church and heard this passage before but never in the context of a cartoon or animation. Quoting the bible in this realm was a bold move but is one of the reasons why I have such respect for the creator, Charles Schultz, and this project.
It reminds me, to this day, don’t forget the reason we celebrate Christmas; it’s the birth of Christ.
Even though Charlie’s day started with doom, gloom, and humiliation (including his dog Snoopy laughing in his face); in the end he finds joy and empathy from his friends.
Let the choir sing:
“Hark the Heralded Angels Sing”
I raised my children on this timeless classic and they continue the tradition. A Charlie Brown Christmas touches my heart in so many ways. The innocence of childhood, the unbridled excess of commercialism on what is a holy holiday. But also the friendships, experiences, and faith that shapes our lives forever.
A Christmas Miracle – The Making of a Charlie Brown Christmas