A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 1965 animated television special, and is the first TV special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. In this special, Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. Lucy suggests he direct a neighborhood Christmas play, but his best efforts are ignored and mocked by his peers. After Linus tells Charlie Brown about the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown cheers up, and the Peanuts gang unites to celebrate the Christmas season.
After the comic strip's debut in 1950, Peanuts had become a phenomenon worldwide by the mid-1960s. The special was commissioned and sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, and was written over a period of several weeks, and produced on a small budget in six months. In casting the characters, the producers took an unconventional route, hiring child actors. The program's soundtrack was similarly unorthodox, featuring a jazz score by pianist Vince Guaraldi. Its lack of a laugh track (a staple in US television animation in this period), in addition to its tone, pacing, music, and animation, led both the producers and the network to predict the project would be a disaster. However, contrary to their collective apprehension, A Charlie Brown Christmas received high ratings and acclaim from critics. It has been honored with an Emmy and a Peabody Award, and became an annual presentation in the United States, airing during the Christmas season every year since its debut. Its success paved the way for a series of Peanuts television specials and films. Its jazz soundtrack achieved commercial success, selling four million copies in the US. Live theatrical versions of A Charlie Brown Christmas have been staged. ABC holds the rights to the special and broadcasts it at least twice during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 70s/80s we visited Disneyland on a regular basis and often after school, before "Annual Passes".