Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Charlie Brown Christmas

We thought it was time to introduce Ben to our favorite Christmas television experience, A Charlie Brown Christmas, this year. So Chris brought it home on DVD, and a board book adaptation of it.

Ben relates to anything more easily if he learns about it first in a book, so this pairing seemed like the optimal experience. We read the book a couple of times, then watched the show. Ben sat with the book in his lap, reading the book-specific expository passages aloud, things such as, "Charlie Brown and Linus went to a Christmas tree lot," at the appropriate moment in the video.

Watching this with Ben was a very different viewing experience than I ever had before. I was quite uncomfortable with how mean the kids are to each other. I was concerned about Ben mistaking Lucy for a role model. I was hyper-aware of how much of the dialog is ironic and satirical. These are types of humor that will not register on Ben's radar for a very long time.

On the plus side, the Vince Guaraldi score is first rate and Snoopy is hilarious in every frame.

The part Ben liked the best, not surprisingly, was Linus' recitation of the Christmas story from Luke. He sat motionless, leaning forward. He asked to see it 3 or 4 times. He seemed entranced by the drama of when the shot pulls back to the empty auditorium and Linus stands lit by the spotlight.

He must have recognized a kindred spirit in Linus - a precocious little boy who needs to suck on something, and recites sophisticated stories from memory.


Unfortunately, Linus' entire speech is not included in the book. I think I'll make a transcript so he can learn it and we can have our own little Christmas pageant in the living room.

And I'll be the Christmas Queen.


md'a said...

Just last week I saw Pasolini's The Gospel According to St. Matthew, and at a certain point realized that the reason the subtitles seemed oddly familiar was that they were the passage Linus had to memorize*. Then I had to stifle my laughter.

* Although actually I'm not sure if the passage I recognized, which is from a week- or even two-week long stretch of the original comic, is the same one he recites in the TV special. ("A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud laments; it was Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing all consolation because they were no more.")

Chris Ereneta said...

Yeah, um. That one was in the comic, not the tv special.

Dolly Madison wouldn't have advertised its snack cakes following the weeping of Rachel.

jaki said...

OMG, Christa, I had tears rolling down my face when I finished this post! Wonderful description!

Connor's mom said...

Connor also loves the Charlie Brown Christmas. Just last week he stood up behind me on the couch and pressed his hands on top of my head & I couldn't tell what he was doing. Then he jumped behind me out of my line of sight. When I turned to look at him he pretended to lick my face. When I asked what he was doing, he said he was Snoopy & I was "that girl" and I realized he had just reinacted the scene where Snoopy is a vulture on Lucy's head, then imitates her & finally licks her face.
Connor also really loves the scene of Linus on stage. Thanks for this wonderful story!

Connor's Mom

Tim said...

Mmmmm. Dolly Madison.

kristina said...

Charlie is the name of my son (10 years old, autism); his favorite part of the Charlie Brown special is when the kids are all singing and dancing (repetitively) as Schroder plays piano. Something about Charlie Brown finding that little live tree, forgotten amid all the aluminum ones always gets to me.

Like Linus, my son has a blanket thing ("leave it at home, blanket stays in the house," he knows to say). Guess Linus would have a polarfleece one now....

best wishes from Kristina Chew