The Peanuts holiday tales are timeless holiday traditions, and just about everybody has fond memories of watching our favorite round-headed kid as he and his friends struggle through Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. "The Peanuts Holiday Collection" brings together three beautifully remastered, beloved holiday tales, accompanied by three other bonus stories to complement them.
"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" when Linus decides to spend Halloween night sitting in the pumpkin patch, hoping for the Great Pumpkin to appear. While he and the besotted Sally are out there, Charlie Brown and the others are off trick-or-treating and going to a party, even as the World War I flying ace (aka Snoopy) is shot down behind enemy lines. Will the Great Pumpkin appear, or is Linus' pumpkin patch not sincere enough? And if he doesn't appear, what is Sally going to do?
Then in "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving," Charlie Brown is planning to go with his family to his grandmother's house. But then Peppermint Patty calls him, and ends up inviting herself, Marcie, and Franklin to a Thanksgiving dinner... at HIS house. Charlie Brown's friends agree to help out with dinner -- but with a ping-pong dinner table and a main course cooked by a dog and a bird, is there any chance of this being a satisfying Thanksgiving?
Finally it's "A Charlie Brown Christmas," with poor Charlie Brown feeling depressed just before the holidays. Lucy comes up with the idea of having him direct the Christmas play... which turns out to be a disaster, since everybody is too busy dancing. And when he's sent off to buy a Christmas tree, Charlie Brown ends up buying a scrawny little thing that keeps shedding needles. It's up to Linus to remind everyone of the true meaning of Christmas.
There's also a bonus special accompanying each of these classic episodes: "It's Magic, Charlie Brown," in which Snoopy's dabblings in magic render Charlie Brown invisible, which has some unexpected drawbacks and benefits; "The Mayflower Voyagers," the story of how the Pilgrims came to the US, and is acted by the Peanuts gang; and "It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown," a series of goofy, kooky yuletide adventures for the Peanuts gang, including a disastrous pageant, mittens, and Charlie Brown's ceaseless attempts to sell a Christmas wreath.
Every one of these holiday stories has that simple, down-to-earth magic that Charles Schulz managed to create for several decades -- there's nothing cutesy or twee about these stories. Just lots of understated humor ("What did you expect, a turkey card?"), running jokes, and poor Charlie Brown flailing around trying to stay afloat during the holidays.
But there are some powerful moments as well, such as Linus solemnly reciting the story of Christ's birth during the Christmas episode, or telling them about the origins of Thanksgiving. He's less inspiring when going off about the Great Pumpkin, though.
The characters are the really endearing part of it, mainly because they don't come across as snotty/cutesy caricatures of children -- they're more like everyday kids with an adult twist (Lucy rambling about Christmas being run by a syndicate). Charlie Brown is depressed by every holiday and struggles to make everybody happy, while Linus is wise and sensible (except on Halloween). And there's the feisty Peppermint Patty, grumpy Lucy, and of course Snoopy (who lives in his own little world).
An added note about the remastered editions -- not only do they have lots of lovely interviews, behind-the-scenes stuff, and of course the bonus specials, but they are BEAUTIFUL. Every story has been lovingly cleaned-up, so that the colors are bright and the animation is crisp.
Assuming you don't already have these stories, "The Peanuts Holiday Collection" is a must-buy for anyone who has ever hummed along to the jazzy piano theme, or suffered through some holiday pangs.