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Garden Journal

Create a Charlie Brown Christmas tree this year

By Paul Barbano | Dec 19, 2012
A Charlie Brown Christmas seed tree is also a great gift.

They produced “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on a shoestring budget, complete with choppy animation style and poorly mixed sound.  

Another criticism was the absence of a laugh track, something unheard of in children’s television.  But worst of all was the inclusion of Linus onstage reciting the story of the nativity from the Authorized King James Bible.  A Bible reading on a children’s special? The executives were appalled.

CBS programmers were unenthusiastic, telling the production team, “We will, of course, air it next week, but I’m afraid we won’t be ordering any more.” The production team said to themselves, "We've just ruined Charlie Brown."

In the story, Charlie Brown decides that a school nativity play needs a Christmas tree, and he goes out with explicit instructions to get a "big, shiny aluminum tree."

Instead, Charlie Brown chooses a hapless, tiny baby tree that, ironically as well as symbolically, is the only real tree for sale. The selection of the pathetic tree represents a protest against the commercialization of Christmas.

The Charlie Brown tree, bent over under the weight of a single ornament, has come to symbolize inclusion and finding beauty in things less than perfect.

You can make your own Charlie Brown tree as a perfect gift for a gardener in your life.  Choose a suitably bent and pathetic-looking branch to serve as your tree. Anchor the branch firmly in a pot weighted down with sand or pebbles.  Decorate the tree with small gifts suitable for gardening. Hang garden-themed small gifts such as trowels or garden gloves.  Tiny precision seeders are another great usable ornament. Precision seeders are much like perfume atomizers with a bulb that you pump that spits out just a few seeds at a time.  Precision seeders let you plant tiny seeds like carrots and lettuce a few seeds at a time, eliminating the need for thinning.

Glue ribbon to the seed packets and loop the ribbon over the tree branches.  Add seed packets of Christmas-themed flowers such as Candy Cane zinnia (from Burpee) or Candy Cane candytuft (from Stokes Seeds).  Vegetable seeds might include Christmas Pole Lima Beans (from Vermont Bean Seed Company).

For a more inclusive tree, add seeds of Star of David okra (from Seed Savers Exchange or by phone at 563-382-5990.)

Many common seeds lend themselves to this tree.  For single men, try seed packets of bachelor buttons.  And of course forget-me-nots.

A Charlie Brown Christmas seed tree is also a great gift for shut-ins.  Add some small pots, bags of potting soil, some small live plants and small hand gardening tools.

Pair your tree with other garden-themed gifts such as gardening books, a farmer’s almanac, even seed catalogs to browse on wintry nights.

Add a bow and a top-heavy ornament so the tree bends and you are done.

As for “A Charlie Brown Christmas?” The half-hour special first aired Thursday, Dec. 9, 1965, when to the shock of the executives, it was both a critical and commercial hit. Instead of taking away from the show, the technical problems added to the show's appeal.  

The quirks and low budget lent the show an authentic and sincere feeling. TV critic Harriet Van Horne of the New York World-Telegram said, “Linus’ reading of the story of the Nativity was, quite simply, the dramatic highlight of the season.”  Merry Christmas.

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