Ordinary Christmas Magic
We’ve got a VERY strict rule in our household that was passed down from my side of the family. We do not do anything Christmas before December 1st. No Christmas decorations, no Christmas music, no Christmas movies, no Christmas cocktails, no Christmas sweaters… until AFTER December 1st. Included in this list of banished items/activities is Christmas-themed newsletters.
So, I’ve been waiting over 11 months to write this particular edition of Two Mann, Two Sense, because it has to do with one of the most famous Christmas shows/soundtracks of ALL time. Just hearing a few of the first few, very hesitant notes, evokes such nostalgia that you may get a little sad. But, after listening to an interview with the drummer, it’s not really sadness that we’re feeling. It’s an openness. That’s the power of art. You may have guessed that I am referring to A Charlie Brown Christmas. I’m listening to it right now, on December 5th, as I type these words.
Here’s some interesting things to note about A Charlie Brown Christmas: Before it aired on CBS, everyone thought it was doomed to fail. Network executives at the CBS headquarters in NYC thought it was a joke. Midway through production it almost got canceled. It was deemed as too slow, too simple, with not enough action, and a jazz soundtrack that “just didn’t belong,” they said.
The only reason the show aired at all was because it was already listed in the TV Guide and CBS had signed on with an advertising deal with Coca Cola. They were embarrassed by the fact that they had to run it. But, on that fateful night — that almost wasn’t meant to be — over 45% of the American TV-watching population watched it. Yes, 45% was 15,490,000 households watching the special!!
How did something that was doomed to fail become a legendary, cherished tradition? How did something that was an embarrassment to TV executives, now have the power to evoke such nostalgia with only the hint of the first few notes of Vince Guaraldi’s now-classic soundtrack? The answer, according to the band’s drummer Jerry Granelli, (who passed away last year) might surprise you.
It’s because it was ordinary. He called it “Ordinary Magic.” It’s so ordinary that it’s spectacular. “It was built from a place of such innocence, that there’s no ego attached.” So, perhaps the lesson that we can all take from this is don’t not (yes, that’s a double negative) put your craft out there into the world, because you think it’s too ordinary. Sometimes ordinary is exactly what we need. Our job as creators is to make the work and not judge how successful it will or will not be. Just put it out there.
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