Picture the time, It's 1965 and a new Christmas Special is being advertised. However, this special was "special". This was the first time the Peanuts gang whom had been in the newspaper comics since 1950, was getting a chance to air on TV. The biggest problem was, they only had a six month timeline to get everything done, and it was finished only one week before airing to a national audience. Think about this, one episode of SpongeBob takes nine months to a year to put together. Imagine hastily putting together a Christmas Special (with the backing of Coca Cola as the advertiser) in only half of that time.
Charles Schultz was really adamant about what he wanted to see in his program. For one, He wanted actual kids (some of them who could not even read yet, so they had to be mouthed their lines) to portray the children in the show. He thought using adult voices would be too costly and would ruin the special. Secondly, he insisted that the Bible scripture from Luke Chapter 2 verses 8-14 be aired in the special. CBS hated that idea, due to the fact that they felt like many kids would be turned off by it. However, Schultz being the devout Christian and Sunday School teacher he was, said it was to stay in. CBS agreed to let him keep it in the special much to their displeasure.
CBS Executives watched the finished product one week before air. They hated it. They thought it was too flat, too slow, and not attention grabbing. They almost did not want to air it. However, journalists and critics were next to have a screening. They loved it. CBS did decide to air the special as a one off citing that they wouldn't be interested in anymore Peanuts projects in the future. On December 9,1965 more than 50% of all households in the US tuned in to the special which aired at 8:30 PM between The Munsters and Gilligan's Island. It was a massive hit in the ratings. So much so that CBS would order 40 more Peanuts specials over the years and would run the Christmas special every year until 2000 when ABC would take over the rights till 2020, when Apple acquired the airing rights to all the Peanuts specials. I do think it's a shame Apple has the exclusive rights to it because it means a lot of people will not have the chance to watch it.
I am glad however this special does continue to be a yearly tradition for many. This special is sentimental to me, its one of the Christmas specials I loved aside from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Santa Claus is Coming To Town, and A Muppet Family Christmas. The music in the background by The Vince Guaraldi Trio is the perfect mood setting for this special. What do you think? Do you think the special is too religious? Do you think the special still holds up today?