Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on January 9, 1965 in full living color, a 60s term hyping the sales of color TV. Four years later, full living color came into our living room. It’s hard to believe this Charles Schultz Peanuts special has been a Christmas tradition for 57 years.
I grew up west of Alliance on US-62, the east-west route through the city. My father bought 10 acres of farmland and forest for a retreat with a large pavilion, the site of many service club and Jokie’s Café picnics. My father and mother built our family home 500 feet back from the highway and 500 feet in front of the picnic area. It was a wonderful world to explore and call home.
How does this relate to a Charlie Brown Christmas? My father died in February 1970. One of his friends later that year suggested that we sell Christmas trees. We had the perfect location. The town was growing westward. We sat on a major east-west route with heavy traffic. My brother and I agreed that it was a good idea to earn some extra Christmas cash.
We found a Christmas tree wholesaler. I painted and hand-lettered a sign on a 4X8 sheet of plywood. We opened shop the day after Thanksgiving. It was a learning experience. We were quite successful and sold trees for 3 years. My mother sold our land and house to Ford for their new dealership in early 1973. We were out of the tree business.
I am a fairly artistic person and a Peanuts fan. I saved our December 27, 1971 Newsweek cover that featured Peanuts. I was determined to recreate the scene in plywood for our Christmas display. I took the jigsaw to that Christmas tree lot sign in the fall of 1973. I enlarged, traced, and painted the Peanut figures. Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock came to plywood living color.
I moved these Peanut cutouts 3 times across Ohio over the past 49 years. They sat prominently in my front yards. The paint is peeling and fading. Every year, I have promised myself that I will give them a fresh coat of paint and repair the breaks and jagged edges.
Time has not been kind of Woodstock. He needs a total makeover. Most of the narrow necks have split. Snoopy is missing his doghouse featured on the Newsweek cover. I ran out of plywood in those days when I lived on a college student’s income. I could not afford another sheet of plywood for his doghouse
The lettering remains on the reverse sides of the cutouts. You can piece together Christmas Trees for Sale and the other details. I will not paint over this side. I debate whether I should let them show their age and not repaint them. I want them to look clean and fresh but maybe they should remind me of the years.
Christmas traditions. These cutouts are one of the things that Christmas is to me. I painted them as a 19-year-old. They have more meaning to me today as a 68-year-old. It’s hard to believe that 2023 is their golden anniversary.
Merry Christmas! Treasure your holiday traditions and memories. Time passes fast. It’s easy to let them fade. Do what you can to keep them alive and in your memory and heart.