Donna C. Terrell

I Was Just Thinkin'

The Christmas Connection–or Ways to Keep Everybody Happy During One Really Short Week

The “Christmas Season.” It’s only a hot month long, and everybody has plans–plans for good and not evil. Parties and get-togethers, shopping for friends and family, dinners, celebrations, and the distribution of gifts. This is a good year for me–I’ve been blessed and fortunate to have worked all year, so I have gifts for everyone! I also was very systematic with shopping–I started in September, thank you very much! So as of now, I’m pretty much done. I have to get the husband a couple of more things, and maybe a few little fun stocking stuffers for the ladies, but THAT’S IT.

If you’re like most folks, you want to see everyone who’s important to you as well as have some time for yourself. It’s also hard to get things done when you’re working every day. The main things you must do are:

PURPOSE IN YOUR MIND WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. Everything starts in the mind. When you decide to set your mind, you’re halfway there. I know I need to see the in-laws, go back to the grocery store, and bake a lady 5 dozen cookies. I really don’t feel like baking. BUT I made a commitment, so it has to be done. That’s the end of it.

SET A PLAN OF ACTION. I’ll have to work a little bit at a time to get this done, cause I don’t like last-minute crap. I’m not baking all weekend.

DO NOT WAIVER FROM YOUR PLAN. Despite fatigue and just generally wanting to veg out in front of the tube, I’ve baked 4 of the 5 dozen cookies. Now all that’s not hanging over my head. I feel accomplished thus far.

MAKE IT ENJOYABLE AND NOT A DRUDGE. While baking, which was and is my most dreaded task, I watched my Charlie Brown and Grinch DVDs.

REALIZE THAT RELATIONSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT and IT REALLY DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO MAKE SOMEONE HAPPY. My best friends are important. My nieces are important. My best friend’s mother is important. So time MUST be made to see them during this time period. My mother-in-law will be happy if we spend a couple of hours at her house this weekend. My father will be happy if I cook Christmas dinner. Do this kind of stuff, purpose in your mind that you will, and you’ll feel very good about yourself afterwards.

HAVE SOME DOWN TIME. I have four days off. On Monday, I ain’t doing nothin’!




Hardrock, Coco and Joe–Dudes of Black and White Christmas Past

While ol’Ebeneezer Scrooge was cowering over the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future, high atop the North Pole were three little elves helping Santa get ready for the Big Night. Hardrock, Coco and Joe –The Story of the Three Little Dwarfs, always signaled the beginning of Christmas excitement for us Chicago-area kids.

Hardrock, Coco and Joe was a short featurette that ran every Christmas season on Garfield Goose and Friends, a children’s show produced in Chicago. Although the effects are crude–they used puppets and stop-motion animation–the singing is dated and it’s in shadowy 50s black and white, it’s such a sincere little piece. If you are of the Chicagoland generation that segued from black and white TVs to color, you’ll fondly remember these guys.


Hardrock, Coco and Joe had a couple of friends that they hung out with–Suzy Snowflake…

and ol’ Frosty the Snowman!

All three shorts ran every Christmas season on Garfield Goose, Bozo and Ray Raynor in Chicago in the early 60s and 70s. They conjure up wonderful memories and warm feelings. In these days of “hot” vampires, spaced-out gamers and kids being way too sophisticated than they should be, it’s nice to go back to another day. I hope that you’ll watch these shorts and just enjoy them for what they are. Merry Christmas!


A Salute to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Christmas time is here! You can always tell when the Sunday paper is twice as thick with ads and the “lite” radio station starts its Christmas music programming right after Halloween.  People flood the stores at obscene times like 4:00 a.m. and even high-end stores are open 24 hours. Good grief!

However, when we hear piano music and children’s voices singing  “Christmastime is here, happiness and cheer, fun for all, that children call their favorite time of year,” that signals the beginning of the most beloved and enduring shows ever, A Charlie Brown Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas was the very first Peanuts television special and it premiered on December 9th, 1965.

It’s hard to believe that such a wonderful, sincere show like A Charlie Brown Christmas would have problems actually getting on the air.

  • The network (CBS) thought it moved much too slowly, and the execs also weren’t too thrilled about Linus reciting from the Bible, but Peanuts creator Charles Schultz pushed to keep this in. He wanted to make sure his show relayed the true meaning of Christmas. Good for him.
  • An all-child cast was used instead of using adult women, as commonly used to voice children’s parts. Some of the kids could not read and had to be coached line-by-line.
  • There was no laugh track. Many children’s cartoons of the day had one. Again, Schultz objected, saying he wanted viewers to enjoy the show without being prompted.
  • The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack wasn’t met with favor. The thinking was that jazz wouldn’t fly in a children’s show. The music is part of what we now associate with Christmas music, especially Linus and Lucy, which became the theme of all Peanuts specials.

Even with all of the network trepidation, the show had 50% of the country tuned in and went on to win a Peabody award and an Emmy award for Outstanding Children’s Program in 1966!

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a tradition and it rings in the Christmas season, especially for those who were kids back in the 60s and 70s. “It reminds me of past Christmases,” said Mark. Shavonne says, “I play the tape every Christmas morning. It’s pretty worn; I guess I should get the DVD now,” she laughs.

Here are just a few things I love about the show:

Charlie Brown combats commercialism. Even as a kid, he recognized that even with all the parties, gifts, glitter and glitz, something was still missing regarding the Christmas holiday.

The real meaning of Christmas Linus sincerely relayed the Bible story from Luke chapter 2. He helped Charlie Brown realize that it wasn’t about all the commercialism that so dismayed him.

Snoopy What a dog! He skates. He does impersonations and home makeovers. Snoopy even plays the guitar, and you gotta love his Trepak dance on top of Schroeder’s piano. However, Snoopy did deserve to be drop-kicked for laughing at Charlie Brown along with the rest of the kids. No doggy treats for him.

Sally’s letter to Santa She’s very resourceful, telling Santa he can save time by just sending money—especially tens and twenties.

Lucy Lucy, although mouthy, does have a heart. She pushed for Charlie Brown to get involved in the Christmas play, and she tried to analyze his problems at her psychiatry kiosk. But Lucy’s crush Schroeder wasn’t too impressed with the Christmas Queen’s hitting on him.

The little Christmas tree The poor, pitiful tree became the standard upon which all things scrawny and scraggly are measured. “Don’t get that one! It looks like Charlie Brown’s tree!” It showed that anything could flourish when given a little love.

A Christmas carol This is one of the most heartfelt renditions of Hark the Herald Angels Sing ever sung.

What do you like about this classic?

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