Saturday, December 9, 2023

A Charlie Brown Christmas

__By Tiffany Amber Stockton__

In November, I wrapped up the series on state name history. You can read last month's post if you missed it. Today, I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane for a lot of us here at the blog, either readers or writers. It's a nod to a story that has warmed its way into the hearts of millions and has become an annual tradition.


Newspapers had delivered the tales of the "Peanuts" characters to American doorsteps every day since October 2, 1950. Now, for the first time ever, comic strip characters would be coming to life for a thirty-minute children's cartoon airing during primetime on December 9, 1965. Quite a gamble for those TV execs.

The popular animated musical special about Christmas was based on Charles M. Schulz's comic strip. It was a telling commentary on the loss of the spirit of Christmas among Americans, and it's now shown every year at Christmas time all over the world. But do you know how this beloved classic came to reality?

Apparently, there was a big ad war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi during the 1960's, and after Pepsi teamed with Disney in 1964 for their "It's a Small World" presentation at the World's Fair in New York, there were rumors that Coca-Cola wanted to sponsor a family-friendly Christmas special the next year. 

Schulz gave it a whirl, and Coca-Cola accepted immediately. Unfortunately, CBS didn't jump on the bandwagon quite so quickly. They outright rejected the idea at first, but in light of some recent executive changes at the network, they eventually agreed to take a risk and divert from their successful primetime programming.

With less than six months to create the special, Schulz and the team working with him attempted a feat none of them had ever done before. After a pre-screening mere days before the air date, the execs were not impressed, but still agreed to move forward because they already had it on the schedule for the following week.

On Thursday, December 9, 1965, nearly half of all American television sets (over 15 million households) were tuned in so viewers could judge for themselves. What the CBS network thought would be a flop turned into a classic.

In 1966, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" won a Peabody and an Emmy for outstanding children’s programming. The success of this special changed the network's prime-time philosophy, and next year, another animated holiday special aired during primetime: the adaptation of Dr. Seuss's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." In 1969, it aired "Frosty the Snowman." By the mid-70s, the three major broadcasting networks were airing 80-90 television specials annually. Charlie Brown had ushered in a new age in television history. :)


* How many times have you seen A Charlie Brown Christmas?

* Were you there to see it air for the first time on television? If so, do you remember anything about that day?

* What was your first impression of this Christmas special?

* Are there any other Christmas specials you're sure to watch each and every year?

** This note is for our email readers. Please do not reply via email with any comments. View the blog online and scroll down to the comments section.

Leave answers to these questions or any comments you might have on this post in the comment box below. For those of you who have stuck around this far, I'm sending a FREE autographed book to one person every month from the comments left on each of my blog posts. You never know when your comment will be a winner! Subscribe to comments so you'll know if you've won and need to get me your mailing information.

Come back on the 9th of each month for my next foray into historical tidbits to share.

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Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also a professional copywriter/copyeditor. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help improve their lives in a variety of ways.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children and four cats in southeastern Kentucky. In the 20 years she's been a professional writer, she has sold twenty-six (26) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. All i would think about when I saw a charlie brown christmas is what a sad little tree.

  2. Thank you for posting today. I don't remember when I first saw this Christmas special, but it sure is iconic. I'm not sure why now they always say that it won't air on network tv, I'll have to look that up. The only other show I make sure I watch is "Home Alone" but I have no idea why I like it!! I don't watch many movies more than once.

    1. So this was bugging me, I went and looked it up right away. Turns out Apple bought the rights to this and The Great Pumpkin. Bah humbug!!

  3. I watch all those animated specials as a child. My folks loved watching them too. I don't recall Charlie Brown's Christmas being first. I always thought it was Roudolph the Red-nose Reindeer. Maybe because it was an hour musical. I watched every Charlie Brown special and my children watched them too. They are still available on DVD.

  4. Very informative! I still watch most of the Christmas specials on TV. I've seen them all many times. I remember all of us kids gathering around to watch them when they came on. To me they were comforting and fun.

  5. Love this post! I watch it every year and can't remember a Christmas we didn't. I'm sure I saw it in 1965 because my Mom made it a tradition but too young to remember.