A Charlie Brown Christmas (TV Short 1965) - Plot Summary Poster

(1965 TV Short)


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  • Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.

  • When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism that he sees amongst everyone during the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas paegent. Charlie Brown accepts, but it proves to be a frustrating struggle. When an attempt to restore the proper spirit with a forlorn little fir Christmas tree fails, he needs Linus' help to learn what the real meaning of Christmas is.

  • Christmastime is here, and Charlie Brown knows that he should be happy, but he isn't. He also knows that commercialism is the problem - even manifesting itself within his own family as seen by younger sister Sally's Christmas letter to Santa, and Snoopy entering a Christmas decorating contest with a cash prize - but he doesn't know what to do about it. When Lucy suggests that he direct the Christmas play, Charlie Brown hopes to find the true meaning of Christmas in the process. But that doesn't seem to be working. One of the last pieces for the play is to get a Christmas tree as the set centerpiece. Charlie Brown, with Linus is tow, takes on the task himself, with all of his cast wanting him to pick out a nice aluminum tree. Instead, Charlie Brown chooses a small, sickly looking real tree that he believes needs some tender loving care. Although it is the exact opposite of what his cast asked him to get, it may act as that symbol to bring the true meaning of Christmas back into everyone lives, with a little help from a speech by Linus.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Children skate on a pond. Charlie Brown and Linus leave their homes to join in the fun, but on the way they stop to discuss Charlie Brown's ambivalence towards Christmas. When they arrive, Snoopy begins a game of crack-the-whip and then grabs Linus's blanket, throwing Charlie Brown into a snow bank.

    Charlie Brown checks his mailbox for Christmas cards, but finds none. He sarcastically thanks Violet for the card she sent, then runs across Pig Pen who is building a dirty snowman. The kids catch snowflakes on their tongues and try to knock a tin can off a fence with snowballs. After watching for a while, Linus forms his blanket into a sling and knocks off the can.

    Charlie Brown visits Lucy at the psychiatrist's desk. He tells Lucy he's depressed and is worried that he should be happy at Christmastime. Lucy suggests a series of phobias he might have; Charlie Brown thinks he has panophobia, the fear of everything. Lucy suggests he needs to be more involved and that he start by directing the school Christmas play.

    Snoopy, meanwhile, begins decorating his house in hopes of winning cash in a lights and display contest, and Sally writes her letter to Santa, suggesting that money would be a satisfactory alternative. Charlie Brown is upset with their commercial focus.

    When Charlie Brown arrives at the auditorium, the kids are rehearsing their play, which consists entirely of music and dancing. They're very concerned about Charlie Brown's ability to direct. As he tries to explain his directing strategy, the kids gradually stop listening and return to their dance. Lucy, as script girl, hands out scripts and costumes: an innkeeper, a shepherd, a wise man. Snoopy, as the only animal, has to play a sheep and cow, and demonstrates his ability to imitate a penguin and vulture as well if necessary. He then imitates Lucy as she gives orders, much to her annoyance. Frieda and Pig Pen are ambivalent about their parts as innkeeper and wife. Sally is assigned to be Linus' wife, to her joy. Lucy, however, is worried about her part as the Christmas Queen. The kids continue to insist on music and dancing, so Charlie Brown suggests a Christmas tree as a good prop. Lucy wants a big aluminum tree, possibly painted pink. Charlie Brown and Linus go to a find a tree, and visit a glamorous tree lot with aluminum trees in all kinds of colors. But Charlie Brown chooses a tiny shrub with almost no needles.

    Back at the auditorium, Schroeder wants to play Beethoven for the play. Lucy disagrees, so Schroeder tries a jazzy number. Snoopy starts dancing to it, but both Lucy and Schroeder glare at him until he slinks away. Lucy requests Jingle Bells instead, and Schroeder tries several variants before finding one she likes. At that point, Charlie Brown and Linus return with their tree, which is universally derided as too small and ugly. Charlie Brown decides he doesn't understand what Christmas is all about, so Linus recites the Christmas Story from the book of Luke in the Bible. "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown," he says.

    Charlie Brown takes his tree and leaves. The other kids follow. Charlie Brown intends to decorate his tree beautifully and bring it back for the play. He takes an ornament from Snoopy's prize winning decorations, but when he puts it on his tree the branch droops all the way to the ground. In frustration, he walks away. The other kids then gather around the tree and decorate it with Snoopy's decorations. When they make it look nice, they begin singing, and Charlie Brown returns. "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" everyone yells, and they all break into "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing", as credits roll.

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