For the very young, making sense of what grown-ups say has always been cryptic. Charles Shultz knew that better than most and nailed it in his comics. You never saw adults in his strips and on the TV specials, anything they said was simply gibberish sounding like, "Waaa-whaa-wa-waaa-wa."
Amazingly, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" first aired a half century ago in 1965. That's when we first heard the adult "Whaaa-waa's," saw the "Peanuts" characters in animated movement and listened to them talk, lament and sing. It's also when many learned the meaning of Christmas and the term, "Charlie Brown Tree" was coined. It's been a holiday staple since.
The Postal Service likes to be prepared, so on Oct. 1, (weeks before the annual Halloween "Peanuts" special, "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" will air), a series of 10 new 2015 holiday first class "Forever" stamps will celebrate the season and anniversary of the TV special.
Fans of the cartoon special are lucky it ever made it to air. The show wasn't in the cards until "Peanuts" made it onto the cover of TIME magazine. The strip had become a reader favorite and a short documentary about Charles Shultz had aired in 1963. After seeing the story in TIME, an advertising rep for Coca-Cola called animator Bill Mendelson to see if a Peanuts Christmas Special had been considered. Within a day, Mendelson and Schulz came up with a script.
Immediately, some critics panned it for being too religious with Linus quoting scripture from the King James Bible. Others were not a fan of the jazz music and no laugh track. They also weren't fond of actual children's voices being used.
None of that mattered. When it aired in December 1965, it came in at No. 2 in the ratings (just behind "Bonanza") seen in 15 millions homes with fully half of possible audiences. It went on to win an Emmy and Peabody Award.
One change made is the lack of sponsored advertising. Having been the original brainchild of the rep for Coke, early footage included some signage for Coca-Cola during the skating scene with Linus. Other footage was removed for commercials but later restored. And, though Schulz was living in California, he set the show in the Midwest where he was raised so scenes with plenty of snow could be included.
The new stamps show a variety of iconic scenes from the TV special, including Charlie Brown with his sad but loved little Christmas tree; Pig Pen building a snow man; Snoopy (over)decorating his doghouse; Lucy, Sally and others skating; Charlie Brown checking the mailbox for Christmas cards; the cast of kids singing outside on a snowy night; and four more. It's all but sure these will prove to be some of the most popular holiday stamps produced to date.
For collectors and fans of "Peanuts," First Day of Issue cancels are available for the new stamps. To get them, purchase the stamps at a local post office (after Oct. 1), affix one or more to envelope(s) and send that inside of a larger mailing envelope to: Charlie Brown Christmas Stamps, Special Events, PO Box 7838, San Francisco, CA 94120-7838
There is no charge for the postmark, but all orders must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2015.
Speaking of the holidays coming early, collectors flocked to the U.S. Mint website and bought out the entire 17,000 issuance of the recent Eisenhower Coin and Chronicles sets in just 15 minutes. The sets contain a 1-ounce silver medal of the president and a reverse proof strike of the 2015 Eisenhower Presidential Golden Dollar coin. It's the scarce reverse proof that collectors clamored over and expect to rise in value.
Precious metals investors are also in a buying mode. Because prices for gold and silver are so much lower than just a few years ago, individual buyers have been flocking to dealers to buy what bullion is available. Consequently, some are on wait lists for 10 weeks or more. Ergo, it might be wise to plan accordingly for a bullion stocking stuffer.
Editor's Note: JPEG visuals of two of the new Charlie Brown Christmas stamps have been sent with this column.
To find out more about Peter Rexford and features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.