A Project for Better Journalism chapter

The over-commercialization of Christmas

If your family has ever been a fan of the classic cartoon strip Peanuts, you may have also seen some of their holiday classic movies, including “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” In it, the quite infamous Lucy van Pelt describes Christmas through her very candid and impetuous point of view.

“Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.”

Religious or not, Christmas is, for most families, about togetherness. It is also a time to celebrate and respect traditions of both families and world-wide religious customs. So why does Ms Lucy van Pelt say this? Even in 1965 (when the movie was released) some people, including Lucy and writers for the picture alike, felt the need to put that comment in.


If it was prevalent then, it most certainly is now. The past holiday season in particular has had its fair share of consumer drama. Last season in 2015, shoppers in Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana all went viral with people posting videos of fights breaking out over food and toys online on Black Friday. This season fights were especially pertinent as thousands of people lined up at malls across the country to score a good deal on stores’ return policy to take back gifts people did not want.

In a sense, Lucy is right. Sometimes the holiday is in large part over what we get, and how picky we are when getting it.

Not only does Lucy make an interesting case of Christmas in the movie, she also sheds a light as to what some of the driving factors of this greed are when Charlie Brown asks her for some of her famous psychiatric help. As his five cents make a nice metallic “clunk” in her tin jar, Lucy ironically emphasizes her previous point.

“Boy, what a sound! How I love to hear that old metal clink, that beautiful sound of cold, hard cash,” said Lucy.
In finality, that is not just the sound of what huge businesses and corporations sing on Christmas; that sound is not a far cry from what we make when we as consumers get what we want.