The Zen of Charles Schulz

CharlieBrown

So right now I could be working on Christmas cards or studying for my Personal Trainer exam or writing something for my blog. The first two are fairly urgent and time sensitive.  I’m kind of on a deadline for both.  They’re both important to me for different reasons and I know I would regret not prioritizing either one of them.

Guess you figured out which one I picked…

I heard a few days ago that A Charlie Brown Christmas was turning 50 this year.  It first aired on television in December 1965.  Not sure how the news source I was listening to worked the math on that one…    But have a feeling that NEXT December there will be lots of 50th anniversary tributes and accolades for my good buddy Chuck and his sad little Christmas tree.

I’ll just start it off a year early.

I remember watching A Charlie Brown Christmas when it aired for the first time.  I was 11 years old and had just moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania to live with my father and step-mother.  My own, dear mother passed away just a little over two months before and left a huge empty space in my chest where my heart used to be.  I was devastated.

I had never lived with my father before that I remember.  My parents were separated when I was very young, and he moved out of state when I was six to marry his new wife.  After he moved, I saw him probably once a year.  And I had no clue he had remarried until I met his wife for the first time when they came to get me to bring me down to Kentucky after Mom’s funeral.

Surprise!

These were the days before there were grief support groups for kids who lost a parent.  The days before there were divorce support groups for kids from “broken” homes.  The days before counseling was considered an option for a child adjusting to the abrupt and sudden loss of her immediate and extended family, her school, all her friends and the only home she had ever known.  They just patted you on your back and said, “Sorry ‘bout your luck.  Now buck up!”

You were just expected to suck it up and move on.  No moping allowed.

Shortly after I moved to Kentucky, my father got me a small, used, portable black and white TV for my room.  Like all TV’s back in the day, my little portable had antennas to get the paltry four – count ’em, four – stations that were available at that time. The reception was horrible on my little TV.  Lots of snow and static and fuzzy pictures.  Those darned rabbit ears.

But I honestly think that television was my salvation.  It was something magical.  It transported me to places and into stories that made me forget…   Shows like The Wonderful World of Disney or The Ed Sullivan Show or I Dream of Jeanie would suck me in and I’d forget for a couple of hours that I was a lonely stranger in a strange land living with strangers.

Most of all, I loved the shows that made me laugh.  Red Skelton, The Munsters, McHale’s Navy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island. And Looney Tunes cartoons – they were my favorite.  Tweety Pie was the bomb.  Bring it on Puddy Tat…  The more ridiculous and absurd, the more I laughed.

There was solace in laughter.  Healing.  All those good endorphins.  I was too young to drink or do drugs to feel better, but I sure could laugh.  Probably better for me in the long run…

Enter A Charlie Brown Christmas on my little TV in December 1965. Boy, could I relate to Charlie Brown.  I was living his life.  Nothing was going right.  I was full of self-doubt and anxiety.  I had no control over anything that was happening to my life.  I felt like a piece of sh*t.  Charlie Brown was my soulmate!  And I watched that little guy try so hard to make sense of everything, and try make something really dreadful into something beautiful and happy.  He just knew down in his soul there had to be more, and that it was full of love and healing and joy.  And he was right.

It’s been a long time since Linus first stood on that stage helped Charlie Brown understand the real meaning of Christmas.  49 years to be exact.  But I’ve never forgotten the simple lessons I learned from my soulmate and my little black & white TV.  Never, ever give up hope that even the saddest thing can be transformed into something amazing, and laugh a lot.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!!

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18 thoughts on “The Zen of Charles Schulz

    • Oh my – how sweet! Thank you! Funny, I had no idea where this post was going to go when I started writing it… It’s so interesting that sometimes the post takes on a life of it’s own and writes itself. I’m convinced that my mother is my guardian angel and has really watched out for me all these years! Thanks again TTPT and I promise my next post will be the witty AGMA!

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  1. What a great post and how I also remember many of those shows too.Charlie at Christmas was a must see then and thanks to dads still get to watch it.

    Love your blog,following now too.😀

    Sending hugs from B.C. Canada🐱

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  2. Great post – I enjoyed every word and was right there with you feeling the loss and heartache of your 11 year old self. I had to adjust to a “new family” at 9 when parents divorced and mom remarried. Maybe that doesn’t sound as awful – and maybe it wasn’t, but 40 some years later, I still feel the ache and can relate. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Hugs!

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    • Oh Jodi, I’m so sorry… If you’re still feeling the ache 40 years later, it WAS awful and traumatic, and nobody else has the right to judge your experience because it was you’re experience and not theirs. I have only in the last 10 years really come to terms with how the trauma of my very young life (there’s more, but that’s for another post…) has affected nearly most every aspect of my adult life for better or worse. Lots of counseling… 🙂 Thanks for your comment and the hugs, and for sharing your story as well!

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  3. Your story really resonated with me. I lost my dad to cancer when I was 10. He wasn’t a young man; he was 62 when I was born, and my mom was 39. But I remember that lost feeling. I, thank goodness, still had my mom, and my siblings were nearby (they were all married and had children.) We were very poor and living hand to mouth, pretty much, so my mom remarried in 2 years to a man who, again, was much older than herself. It was basically a marriage of convenience. She needed someone who could provide for us, because she couldn’t drive and had no education, and hardly any way of making a living. He needed someone to take care of him. His wife had died six months before, and he was totally helpless, as most men were in the sixties.

    When she married him in summer of 1965, we moved out to the country (southern Ohio), and I lost all of my friends. Thank goodness, my stepfather went to a church that had quite a few young people attending, and I met my future BFF there that summer. She said she knew when she saw me the first time that we were going to be best friends, and she was right. We were inseparable from then on.

    If not for our little B&W television (one shared by all three of us), I wouldn’t have survived my pre-teen and teen years. I watched all the shows that you did, and loved them all. I especially loved The Monkees, Bewitched, and That Girl (I think that was a little later, though). One of the downfalls of having to share the TV with my parents was having to watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights, but I loved the Lennon Sisters, so it wasn’t that bad. And mom always made popcorn.

    I remember that first airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I never miss it to this day. I miss Sparky’s wisdom, but thankfully, our newspaper still runs the Classic Peanuts comic strip every day. It’s very much needed in this day and age.

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    • Wow – thanks for sharing your story SusiQ! You’re mom really did her best to hold everything together didn’t she? She sounds like she was an amazing woman… So glad that you found a new BFF in your new home – I’m sure that helped make the adjustment a bit easier. I met a young woman in my new school in Kentucky (7th grade) who I became fast friends with. Her family kind of “adopted” me and I spent a lot of time at her house with her family. They were a God-send… Unfortunately, we moved a year later and I had to start all over again.

      OMG, I LOVED the Monkees!! I did a post about cycling that talked about my deep and abiding love for them… Drat, I can’t figure out how to link to it but the post is titled I Wanna Hold Your Musette. I remember one time in 8th grade when I refused to eat liver for dinner (I hated liver – it made me gag) and my punishment was that I couldn’t watch The Monkees that night. Noooooooo!!!!!

      You were kind of like me – a young girl with parents old enough to be your grandparents. My dad was 51 and my stepmother was 52 when I went to live with them. Made for some interesting times growing up! I actually got very fond of Lawrence Welk and continued to watch his New Years Eve specials until they stopped doing them. 🙂

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      • Oh, yeah, my stepfather was a grumpy old coot who had raised two boys and certainly didn’t understand a pre-teen (and then teenage) girl. We had lots of run-ins, shall we say. My mom just wanted to rest.

        If left a comment on your Monkees post. 🙂

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      • So much was changing in the world at that time! It really was a time of upheaval – out with the old and in with the new. Add that to the pre-teen/teenage female hormones and a step-father a generation removed and it’s a recipe for – shall we say – conflict? I was too afraid of my dad to have run-ins which was NOT good! So I just sat in my room and watched my little TV and tried to be as “little” as possible so he wouldn’t notice me. Ah – if I knew then what I know now… there would be run-ins!! 😉

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  4. I like the way you write – simple and honest. TV has been therapeutic for me in the past, too. I’m sure everyone has felt its psychiatric effects at some point. My husband loves Charlie Brown : ) It’s great to read stories by someone from a different generation than my own!

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    • Thank you for your kind comment! I’m not really a “real” writer so I can’t do anything other than simple and honest. If I try to get fancy, it’s awful! I think I might have a few awful post out there. One observation; if you have the incredible good fortune to get old – and I hope you do – you’ll find there are really no new stories. They all start sounding oddly familiar. That doesn’t mean that they are any less significant or meaningful to those experiencing them at the time – it’s just that they are all variations on universal themes of the human condition. There’s some weird, strange comfort in that… Unless robots or zombies take over the world and then we really are all screwed!

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