50 years ago, I sat in front of our family's black and white TV with my brothers and watched the first airing of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The following year I watched again, only this time in color. I can still remember the first glimpse of that winter sky full of stars, the glowing snow, and those strange search lights in the background as Charlie Brown and Linus searched for the perfect Christmas tree.
But nothing compared to the glow of that single stage light shining down on the tiny figure of Linus as he delivered that profoundly powerful soliloquy on the true meaning of Christmas.
I have watched A Charlie Brown Christmas every year since....sometimes multiple times. I could watch it a hundred more and never tire of that scene. So quiet. So simple. So perfect.
Now 50 years later, this national treasure is woven into the fabric of the holiday season. Hard to imagine that Charles Schulz nearly nixed the entire project before it ever got started. Harder still to imagine that, once completed, there were many doubters, including the producer of the special, the sponsor, and the network that was about to air it.
According to the LA Times, "a week before the December 1965 premiere, it was shown in New York for CBS executives, who watched in silence. When the lights came up, one of the bosses told Mendelson (the producer), "Well, you gave it a good try."