The US Postal Service always provides something new each holiday season in the images it puts on seasonal stamps. This year the honor goes to Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang as they celebrate 50 years since the television debut of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The set of 10 stamps will be released on October 1st.
The TV special has become a cornerstone of animated Christmas shows that exploded on the small screen beginning in the 1960s, joining the ranks of TV staples such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Rudolph and his pals were immortalized with stamp issues in 2014 to mark their golden anniversary.
What is quite striking about this release is that most of the scenes depicted in the stamps are readily identifiable, half of which center around the small and somewhat lackluster tree that came to be the lightning rod of the storyline. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the tale, Charlie picked up this sparse tree as an accoutrement/prop of sorts for his school play. The tree’s modesty represented Charlie’s railing against the commercialization of Christmas—ironic, in that the USPS has been criticized in recent years for choosing more commercial subjects for its stamp releases.
In the end, Charlie Brown was really trying to get in touch with the real meaning of Christmas. The episode culminated with Linus reciting Luke 2:8-14 from the Bible (King James version), an emotional scene that would stir controversy if done today. That is a reminder of the disconnect between the commercialized holiday and its true raison d’être…apparently as relevant 50 years ago as it is today.