Cartoons and Christmas fill gaps for whatever’s amiss

Those Christmas cartoons are marked with their memorable moments we can see anytime we close our eyes and their lines we can recite all yearlong. Behind the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes that day was probably something about the power of unselfishness peaking Dr. Seuss’ creativity.
The inspiration of Jim Henson’s kind spirit still emulates any time the Muppets burst into song. Rankin/Bass’ stop motion animation was less innovative for its time then as it is timeless for warming generations of hearts now.
No matter how many nights you catch a primetime Christmas cartoon or holiday special each week, they’re powerful messengers if you pay close enough attention.
Like Alice Ortiz wrote on the opinion page a few weeks ago, the messages in Christmas movies are great, but would be even greater if we listened to them a little closer.
Through the eye of the beholder, every day is filled with the same kind of joy for some. For other people, every depressing day leading up to the Christmas season is intensified under the shiny lights and sights of tinsel.
In personal tragedy, there’s still beauty.
Charles Shultz honed his drawing talents at a young age, but still faced rejection when his high school yearbook chose not to run any of his works. Described as timid like his most famous character, Shultz probably tapped into some of that repression, turning it into success.
Linus knew exactly where Lucy had been coming from when he said that out of all the Charlie Browns in the world, his best friend was the Charlie Browniest. That conversation began with Chuck’s realization that Christmas seemed out of sync since he didn’t feel like he should in the midst of presents, cards and Christmas trees.
Squeezed somewhere close to the middle of the Great Depression and Black Friday beginning on Thanksgiving, that 1965 Christmas classic sums up the root of Charlie Brown’s particular predicament in less than 30 minutes.
Even then the glitz and glamour of the season outshined Christmas’ true meaning. You’ve seen the traffic on Saturdays close to the mall. You’ve seen one ad after another for the continuous sales pushed on us. No matter how much you resist or cave right on in to the pageantry, it’s hard not to get caught up in all the joy of parades, rich foods and tacky Christmas sweaters. Still, every once in a while it all feels amiss.
For the older people who were happy with homemade toys growing up, the season’s more about getting together with family for Christmas dinner. For the younger kids with long lists to Santa, it’s more about wide-eyed Christmas mornings under the tree.
As the lessons in life start to educate them a little more each year, so will those Christmas cartoons they can’t wait to see.
With each passing year, they may give a little more and receive a little less and that’s when those cartoons have sunk right on in along with the realization the season is about more than the glitz and glamour.
The walks though downtown districts draped in lights and wreaths are as wonderful as a Christmas tune on the radio, but the holiday is just as beautiful when you take all that away.
The concept of peace on earth and good will toward men as per Linus quickly changed laughs and points at Charlie Brown to the realization you can’t call somebody a blockhead when his heart is in the right place.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” carries the chemistry to deserve the top Christmas cartoon for nearly 50 years running. The music and that pitiful little tree may help put you in the Christmas spirit like a Red Rider BB gun or an unexpected visit from Uncle Eddie, but the Peanuts’ underlying message is what makes that spirit contagious. Time a closer look up from wrapping presents and sipping on hot chocolate next time it comes on and maybe if there’s anything amiss about the holiday, it will help put you in a holly jollier mood.
From all of us at the Monroe Journal, may your Christmas be bright and your hearts be filled with joy. Merry Christmas.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at