Personal Traditions—A Gift To Yourself

Yesterday I took a day off from writing to consider the previous post, and the significance of my Charlie Brown Christmas tradition. Realizing the depth of the story, the characters, and their value to me, I decided to write a series about these enduring and endearing characters.

A New Tradition Begins

A great deal of thought has gone into the history of my Charlie Brown Christmas tradition. The memories are deeply personal, and rooted in my life as a newly single adult. No one else shares those memories; therefore, the tradition just can’t mean the same thing to them. For many years all we did was just watch the show without setting the stage or going through the ritual. Soon it was obvious to me that my daughter and then grandchildren didn’t love the Charlie Brown gang as I did. My “other people focused” way of living leaves little room for self. I can’t enjoy doing something with people who are doing it for me, but are not really enjoying it. I’d rather not do the thing at all than know I am putting those I care about through some kind of torture. For me, there is no joy in that experience; Christmas should be about joy.

Last night was the beginning of a new annual tradition for me. Before then it never dawned on me to do it for me, and do it by myself. One night every year I will schedule an evening alone to set the mood and spend twenty five minutes immersed in the world of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts Gang.

Setting The Mood

Last night, I was alone for the evening so I decided the time was perfect to recreate my Charlie Brown Christmas watch party for one. It is unseasonably warm in Texas this month, so I did what any self respecting Texan does to get in the Christmas spirit: turn thermostat down to mimic a chilly December evening. I then gathered the all accoutrements to make the experience complete. In the future I will plan this a little more in advance so that I can have a signature cocktail and season appropriate hors d’oeuvres. I may even throw pillows and a blanket on the floor for an authentic childhood experience. Well, maybe not. My knees aren’t what they used to be…I’ll probably stick with the recliner.

Being too lazy to cook then clean up the mess, I warmed up leftovers, poured myself a tall glass of homemade sweet tea, grabbed the blanket and settled into my recliner. My current set up is much more luxurious and lovely than when this tradition first began. Though the event has little to do with luxury or comfort, my lovely living room is a definite plus.

The room is dark, illuminated only by the two trees strategically placed in opposite ends of my open concept living room space. The ambience is warm and cozy.

Music

The soundtrack to Charlie Brown Christmas is iconic and playing in the background as I write. I love the West Coast jazz made famous by artists such as Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker and Stan Getz. Vince Guarldi, composer and arranger of the soundtrack for Charlie Brown Christmas, falls into this category. I have strong ties to the Southern California of the 1960s and this music is just a part of what reminds me of that time in my life. I can still remember coming home from elementary school, to our little house on La Reina Street in Anaheim, California, being greeted by Ray Charles’ voice singing “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Music is such a powerful trigger for me. Nothing can make me melancholy, reflective, worshipful, or joyful quite like music.

So, it is no surprise, that as soon as the music began, I was ushered into a place filled with memories, childlike anticipation and the aching loneliness of the woman I was in 1985. Those are powerful emotions and they set the stage for what was to come.

What Lies Beneath

Because of this series, and just where I am in life, I wanted to watch with eyes that see deeper than the action on the screen. There is much to unwrap here. I must watch it again. Maybe watch it several times in order to unpack the characters and the deeper meaning Charles Schultz wrote into his funny little band of childhood friends.

I know I am not alone in thinking about Charlie Brown on a deeper, more psychological level. Funny thing is, for my lifelong passion for the Peanuts gang, I have never done the deep dive. I have simply floated on the surface of the stories; content to enjoy the superficial humor. Call it age or just nothing better to do, that is not enough for me anymore.

That’s All Folks

I end the week with this glimpse into the rest of the Christmas season. I’m going to take the weekend to research. Watch the show a few more times and ponder all that Charlie Brown and his gang have to offer.

I hope that the weekend brings you all that you need: rest, peace, health, and laughter. Consider watching Charlie Brown Christmas again, or for the first time, then come back Monday and let’s have a dose of Christmas joy together.

2309 N. Parkwood Drive

Five of my most formative years were spent in this home. It looked different in 1969. It was newer, had fewer plants in the yard, and to my childlike eye, much larger and more grand.

This is the house we moved into when we left California for Texas. When my parents told me and my brother where we were moving I screamed, in classic old Hollywood style, and asked if we were going to have to ride horses. I then ran to my room sobbing. I was just sure life as I had known it was over. Despite my dramatic response, we did indeed move to the end of the world.

Yes, literally to the end of the United States as the town where we moved was located in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. A literal stone’s throw from the Mexican border. I didn’t know it at the time, but Texas would wrap me up and make me an honorary citizen. I had found my place in the world and for all practical purposes I have spent the rest of my life here.

In my mind’s eye, the house is frozen in time. I can still see the terrazzo floors and the long hallway to the bedrooms. My brother and I would ‘skate’ in our socks down that hall and our poor dog could never get traction as she ran to chase a toy.

My bedroom was behind the window on the far right, my brother’s was next to mine and then the big window was the formal living room. Back then it didn’t have a garage. A carport was often the choice of home builders in the late 1950s. From the carport a small room was added that became my mom’s sewing room, and that led into the family room. This home was way ahead of its time as it had an open concept kitchen/dining/family room. And this is where most of life happened.

Fifty two years have gone by since we moved into this little midcentury home. The years have seen a great deal and taken their toll on both of us. Like me, a little saggy around the edges – nothing a little care and a manicure wouldn’t fix – but we are both still standing while providing comfort and shelter for our families and friends. The years I spent living in this home took me from a prepubescent girl entering the sixth grade (then still a part of elementary school) to a sixteen year old excited to drive and navigate the issues of high school. So much of who I am today began while living in this home in Harlingen Texas.

Going back to childhood memories is almost always a bittersweet activity. Nothing remains the same; time does not stand still nor should we. Life is meant to be experienced as we move forward ever evolving into the perfection for which we were created. Sometime there is value in a quick glimpse backwards before moving forward again.

~Sheryl