Snow is gently falling on the the town. Charlie Brown leaves his house, hopeful that today is the day that he'll finally get a Christmas card. As he checks his mailbox he finds, yet again, no one wants to spread holiday cheer to this barber's child. Depressed, he starts to walk, hoping the gently falling snow will lift his spirits.
He goes to his favorite spot: a low wall in the middle of the least-used park in the world. There, his friend Linus is waiting, still clinging co-dependently to his blue blanket. You'd think that kid would wash it from time to time. It's got to stink.
"I don't know what it is about this time of year, Linus," Charlie Brown says, leaning on the wall and staring blankly off into the distance. "I always get so depressed. Maybe it's because no one sends me a Christmas card. Maybe it's because my team never wins a baseball game. Maybe it's because my dog is more popular than I am." He sighs.
"Maybe it's the overcommercialization of Christmas, Charlie Brown," Linus offers.
"You might be onto something here," Charlie says, standing up more straight. "I do get a little discouraged by the gaudy window displays, the long lines at retailers, and the replaying of the same tired old songs on the radio and at every store. Did you know that the other day, I was at the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble, trying to get a peppermint latte, and I had to stand in line for twenty minutes in order to get it. I heard 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer' three times, and 'Rocking Around the Christmas Tree' four times and that damned Dan Fogelberg song that's just about getting blue balls and has nothing to do with Christmas twice! What the hell ever happened to 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear' or 'Little Drummer Boy' or 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'? Have we just completely forgotten our Christmas roots?"
"Oh, Charlie Brown," Linus offered, "You're a Traditionalist. You like the way things used to be. I'll bet if you rooted for Notre Dame, you'd want them to hire Ara Parseghian every time they do a coaching search, with Lou Holtz as the Offensive Coordinator. There's nothing wrong with it, Charlie Brown, but you need to realize that there's a little more to life than just memories. You should try living in the now."
"You might be onto something, but don't you long for the olden days? Back when Christmas meant something and wasn't just a way to balance out the ledgers for the year for all the retailers?" Charlie asked.
"Hell no," said Linus, "I'm a Capitalist. A little bit of greed and competition is a good thing, as it helps to drive down prices, looks to promote efficiency, and spawns innovation."
"Good grief," Charlie said, "I need to go see my psychiatrist."
Charlie walks away from Linus, who remains on the bridge. Linus looks after his friend. "I know someone who is getting Sarah Palin's book for Christmas..."
Charlie wanders down by the pond and watches as everyone skates. He pauses for a moment, wondering who still has ice skates, but realizes he needs psychiatric help more than he needs to wonder about pastimes of days gone by. He moseys on over to Lucy's "office" where he sits down and quietly waits.
After ten minutes, she finally shows up, brushes the snow off her desk. Instead of saying "Good morning" or "How are you?" or "What can I do you for, Chief?", she waves her canister in Charlie Brown's face.
"So much for pro bono work," Charlie says as he drops in a nickel. Lucy rattles it around in the canister some.
"Mmm..." she says, "the smell of sweet wampum. What's on your mind, Charlie Brown?"
"Well, it's the holiday. Every year when the holidays roll around, I get depressed. I love the lights, I love the good feelings, but every year, I find it a little harder to get in the Christmas spirit," Charlie admits. "I just don't understand it."
"Maybe you have Santaphobia, Charlie Brown," Lucy offers. "It's the fear of Santa Claus."
"Or maybe you're afraid of all sacred icons. That would mean you have Hagiophobia."
"Or maybe you have ailurophobia--that's the fear of cats. Or perhaps you have triskaidekaphobia--that's the fear of the number thirteen. What about chionophobia? That's the fear of snow. Or maybe, just maybe, you've got pantophobia--the fear of everything."
"That's it!" Charlie screams. "What the hell does any of these phobias have to do with my depressed mood at the holidays? Are you just trying to show off that you know some big words? Maybe I have hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. Ever hear of that one? Christ, you're like that asshole on the internet who writes a Latin lesson on Fridays and thinks that people give a damn about it. I came here for advice, and you're throwing around Greek terms like someone actually gives a damn!"
"Relax, Charlie Brown," Lucy said, "I was just trying to help. Maybe what you need is to lump some more stress onto the holidays. How about you be the director of our community Christmas pageant. You're so good at doing everything else in life, there's no way you could screw up our pageant."
"You know what, that's a good idea," Charlie says. "I can feel fulfilled by giving directions to everyone else. I'll do it. Thanks, Doctor. Oh, and, sorry about blowing up at you."
"No problem, Charlie Brown. On your way to the theatre, why don't you pick up a Christmas tree for the production? Nothing too big and fancy. Maybe one of those big pink aluminum ones that were a fad during the 60s or something."
"Thanks again, Lucy. And, yes, I think I will pick up a tree. See you at the theatre."
Charlie Brown gets up and walks away from Lucy's office. Lucy, still sitting at her desk, watches him go. "Damn," she says, "there goes debilitating dependency on alcohol and anti-depressives waiting to happen. Oh well, as long as he keeps paying me for psychiatric advice."
Charlie walks back to his house where he finds his dog, Snoopy, decorating his dog house for Christmas. He has strung lights and balls and tinsel all around the house, topping it with a curious miniature windmill that blinks on and off.
"What's this?" Charlie asks. Snoopy hands him a sheet of paper.
"A holiday decorating contest? With a cash prize of $500 for first place?" Charlie sighs. "Good grief, even my dog has gone commercial."
Snoopy pauses for a second and levels a piercing, virulent stare at Charlie Brown. "Look, asshole, half of that money I'm donating to the local no-kill shelter. Then I'm going to buy Woodstock some birdseed and a little something for Sally. Hmmm...I should probably buy Linus something for all those times I try to steal his blanket from him. Maybe a blue Snuggie. Anyway, after getting Sally and Woodstock and Linus covered with the money that's left over after donating, I'm going to buy you that game system you asked your parents for, but they can't afford since your father is a fucking barber. This is the best I can do because I'm a dog Do you know how difficult it is for a dog to find a job? So, why don't you just run along into your nice warm house, and I'll content myself with decorating my unheated, cramped doghouse so that I can earn a little cash, you judgmental prick?" Of course, since Snoopy isn't that dog from Family Guy, he can't say these things to Charlie Brown. Instead, he thinks them, and eventually Charlie wanders off somewhere else and Snoopy can get back to decorating.
After getting some money from the house, Charlie swings by the low, brick wall where Linus and his nasty-ass blanket are still hanging out. "I'm going to get a Christmas tree for the community theatre's Christmas pageant. Want to come along?"
Linus agrees and they head down to the Christmas tree lot. He shops around for a bit, ignoring the big, gaudy, anachronistic aluminum trees that no one has seen in forty years and instead, opts for a live tree.
"Nine-tee dah-lahs!" the Christmas tree lot attendant barks in broken English.
"Wow, that's expensive," Charlie says. "We live in the middle of a pine forest, you know. Shouldn't these things be a little more affordable?"
"Nine-tee dah-lahs!" the Christmas tree lot attendant barks in broken English again. Charlie begins to think that this might be the only English the guy knows.
"Look, I have $25 that I saved from mowing the lawn over the summer. Would it help if I told you my mom was going to go see Jesus tonight, and she needed
these shoes this tree, because apparently Jesus can turn water into wine but he sucks at making shoes growing fir trees?"
"Nine-tee dah-lahs!" the Christmas tree lot attendant barks in broken English once more.
Charlie waves the twenty-five dollars in the guy's face. He points them toward a pile of reject trees. They are all marked $25.
"I like this one," Charlie Brown says, picking up what is little more than a stick. Needles fall off it.
"This could get ugly, Charlie Brown. Why don't you just get a nice, big tree and file a work order with the theatre to repay you for the tree?" Linus offers.
"First of all, Linus, who is going to carry a big tree? Second, this is community theatre we're talking about. Twenty-five dollars is their yearly budget." He pays the attendant and walks off with his stick of a tree.
Finally, Charlie Brown heads down to the Community Theatre, in which a bunch of kids are goofing off on the stage. Charlie quiets them down and hands out the parts for the play, a recreation of the Nativity scene from the Book of Matthew. As he begins to call for action, everyone goes back to dancing in their really strange ways, as Schroeder bangs out some more seriously awesome free-form jazz piano rhythms. Finally, someone sees his pathetic tree, and they all begin to laugh.
"You call that a tree, you loser?" someone yells out. "I've seen fuller and greener toothpicks!"
Charlie's finally had enough. "Well, Merry motherfucking Christmas! You know what, you bunch of assholes? I take your shit every day--every single fucking day. This is the best tree I could afford down at the over-priced Christmas tree lot. My dad's a fucking barber, for Christ's sake. It's not like we're swimming in money. Besides, Jesus wasn't born under a fucking Christmas tree! So, if you don't like the tree I picked out, you can shove it up your ass."
"A tree that small would have no trouble fitting!" someone shouted. More derisive laughter is showered down over Charlie Brown. Charlie rolls his eyes and goes to take off his jacket. Everyone returns to dancing.
"Alright, alright!" Charlie Brown yells. "Let's ignore the tree and get down to business. Doesn't anyone know that this is a Christmas play? And you're all dancing? And kicking up clouds of dust--no offense, Pigpen."
"My family can't afford a water heater," Pigpen says. "Piss off."
Everyone shouts at Charlie Brown and goes back to dancing and singing Jingle Bells.
"Argh! Doesn't anyone know the true meaning of Christmas around this joint?" Charlie screams in frustration.
"I do, Charlie Brown," Linus said. "I mean, of everyone here, don't you expect me to know this shit? I'm like that guy on the internet who writes a blog featuring a weekly Latin lesson. That guy's a genius. Like him, my mind is filled with useless information and I feel the need to thrust it upon you. I'm a bit pedantic."
Linus takes the stage and points to the light booth. A spotlight falls on him. he then recites a passage from Book of Luke, from the King James Version of the Bible:
"'And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
There's a long, heavy period of silence. Linus walks up to his best friend, still toting his blanket.
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
Feeling like a total douchebag, Charlie Brown lowers his head, grabs his tree, and leaves. Everyone, feeling a bit humbled and wondering if Charlie's going to go hang himself, follow at a respectful distance. Charlie heads off into the night, returning home. There he finds that Snoopy's decorations have won the contest, but the faithful beagle is nowhere to be found.
"Well, good for him, I guess," Charlie says, then takes a ball off Snoopy's house. "I won't let his commercialism ruin my holidays. Never again. I'll embrace my traditionalist views. And now, I'll decorate this pagan symbol of life that's been adopted for the Christian holiday with this ball I just stole from my dog."
He hangs the red ball on the tree, and the tree slumps over.
"I've killed it!" Charlie Brown says, running into the house and crying.
The people from the theatre stop and look at Charlie's sad little tree. "It's not so bad," Linus says, wrapping the base of the tree in his blanket. "I mean, Charlie Brown did spend his own, hard-earned money on the tree, and then everyone laughed at him."
"I guess we did act like dicks," Lucy said. "Let's decorate it and try to lift his spirits."
"Yeah, let's actually do something nice for him for once!" someone says.
They strip down Snoopy's award-winning house and decorate the tree. A Christmas miracle occurs, and the tree magically looks fuller and greener.
"Charlie Brown may be a shithead, but his heart is in the right place," Lucy says.
Schroeder then leads them all in an a capella hummed version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". Apparently, this rouses Charlie Brown from his deep depression, and he comes busting out of the house.
"What's going on out here?" he demands. He then looks at the tree, and then mysteriously jumps and sticks his butt out while doing a double take.
"Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" everyone shouts. They then burst into a sung version of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". As with all Christmas specials, it begins snowing, despite the fact that the sky was cloudless
Snoopy comes home after finishing up his Christmas shopping and sees that his decorations have been taken down. "What the hell? I worked hard on that, and you assholes come along and rip down my lights and decorations! Fuck each and every one of you with a baseball bat!" Of course, since Snoopy isn't the dog from Family Guy, he can't vocalize his frustration. So, instead, he begins growling and chasing all the kids out of the yard.
Merry Christmas, indeed.