CHARLIE BROWN: A Christmas from the past

The December I was 9 years old, my 19-year-old sister, Chris, was planning her wedding for just three days before that Christmas.

It was an exciting time for our family. Well, actually thinking back, it was an exciting time for the women in our family.

My dad, on the other hand, told me – and remember I was 9 then – that I should elope instead of ever having a formal wedding. And my older brothers, ages 17 and 21 at the time, would run when anyone brought up the topic of wedding planning.

Of course, being a girl in the 1960s, the idea of a beautiful gown and all the hoopla that was part of the day was thrilling until something happened, something horrible in my 9-year-old eyes.

The wedding planning got in the way of watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

That now venerable holiday special was going to be shown for just the third time that year, which was 1967. It had debuted in 1965 and was an immediate hit with my mom and me.

At Christmastime 1967, my cousin Kathy was staying with us. She was only 4, but she was as excited as I in anticipation of the airing, which was set for a weeknight.

After all, who doesn’t love Snoopy?

Young people today don’t understand how crucial it was to know back then when a show was going to be on and to catch it when it aired. This was in the dark ages before home video players of any sort.

And it was long before a network would show the same special multiple times in the period of a few weeks, as sometimes is done nowadays.

Thus, watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was a one-chance-or-wait-until-next-December proposition.

Let me preface this by saying what happened this particular year was not my sister’s fault. After all, why would she care one bit when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was being aired? She was planning her wedding and her groom-to-be was in California training as a United States Marine. She had way too much to worry about as it was.

Unfortunately, the way things worked out, my sister and parents scheduled a meeting at our house with the wedding soloist and organist on the Charlie Brown special evening. Being 9, I stubbornly sat and tuned in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (we only had one channel, mind you) and tried to watch. After being admonished a few times to turn down the volume, I wanted to get as close to the set as Mr. Magoo would have, but my mother wanted Kathy, who was sitting in her lap a bit further back in the room, to be able to see as well.

Of course, once Charlie, Linus and Snoopy were on, the adults’ conversation didn’t even register with me. The simple, sweet story took over and the Peanuts gang’s tale of the real meaning of Christmas was my focus.

That was until the final song from the special, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” started and the credits rolled.

“Make it come back,” Kathy sobbed. “Make it come back.”

All attention turned to her sad, sweet face as she cried that Charlie Brown and Co.’s visit was over. Even at 4, she understood he wouldn’t be back again until the next December and she was inconsolable for quite a spell.

This memory came to mind as I just read that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will air at 8 p.m. this coming Monday on ABC. Will have to call Kathy to make sure she watches, unless of course she has the DVD and can watch whenever she’d like and can “make it come back” whenever she so chooses.

That’s one of the advantages 2013 has over 1967.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.