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Thinking about 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' tonight

From TV football on Thanksgiving, to TV concerts from Washington on the Fourth of July, television has become hopelessly wired into our holiday thinking as a nation.

I have a lot of problems with TV defining the holidays and usurping the place of family and church in defining some of our most culturally important rituals.

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That said, there is one Christmas TV tradition I have come to love and even honor: "A Charlie Brown Christmas," the landmark animated special that premiered in 1965 and airs again tonight on ABC.

Do you remember the first time you saw it? Do you still make it part of your holiday? Have you urged your kids to see it?

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This is, of course, the landmark anti-commercial TV special in which Charlie goes from being depressed by the holidays to celebrated by the "Peanuts" community for not going commercial.

Such a rich and brilliant epsiode with so many of the classic "Peanuts" moments included, let's talk about the show.

Will you be watching tonight? What is your favorite part of this lovely tale? And what about the music? I confess buying a Vince Guaraldi CD a few years back to play around the holidays. I think I was trying to remember something about myself from the year when I first heard it in high school.

PS Lest anyone think Z is getting sentimental and snuffle-faced, I am also going to write about one of my all-time Christmas TV specials from the 1960s featuring Judy Garland. It was on CBS, and Garland was so loaded, she couldn't remember the words to the tune she was singing with her musical director, Mel Torme. And he had written the song! It was a hoot and a classic, and I try to remember it every year for what it said about the early days of TV -- and how the medium at its worst could chew up a great talent like Garland.

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