Technology is Amazing, Charlie Brown

I loved Christmas specials on television growing up.  I can still remember the excitement as the colorful “Special Presentation” (or whatever it said) words would spin in a multi-colored kaleidoscope on to the screen, announcing that a Christmas show was about to come on.  While I still enjoy many of them, my favorites are still “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the original cartoon) and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.  Those are the two that have stood the test of time for me.

The boys, of course, love them and they eagerly would watch most of them.  There have been some new ones added over the years — some funny, some heartwarming and some that are just plain creepy — that we have discovered together, but it is the old ones that they seem to enjoy the most…You can’t beat the classics, I guess.  It is adorable as Matthew, who really struggles to talk sometimes, walks around the house singing the Heat/Snow Miser song, making sure to hum the trombone parts of the song.

However, the interesting twist, that was unheard of when I was growing up, is that that they could watch their favorites over and over thanks to the DVR.  A VCR was unheard of for most of my childhood.  As kids, if we missed a showing, that was usually it…we missed it for the year.  And, in a way, that was nice because the night that Rudolph was on became an event.  We eagerly waited for it and we watched it together as a family.  Basically, there was no way we were going to miss it.  Now, I could be walking around the mall and pull up an app on my phone, scan the TV listings and set the DVR to record a particular show.  We would watch it when it was convenient (and if it was a hit, watch it over and over and over).

That same technology allows me to download the Heat/Snow Miser song so that I can play it, and other favorites, in the car to cheer them up on the way to school.

However, in all of this, the intersection of Christmas tradition on technology that touched me the most was the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” app by Loud Crow that was available for the iPad (maybe Android, as well).  I feel like I am about to write a review, but this was amazing.  It is designed like a pop up book with the familiar music of the television special playing in the background.  The kids could turn the pages and have the book narrated or they could read it themselves.  They could “pop” snowflakes, play Schroeder’s piano, make the characters dance on stage and even decorate Charlie Brown’s tree.  As the season passed, they could find ornaments and other goodies hidden on different pages.  Both boys spent countless hours playing on the iPad.  I really thought this was a special part of their Christmas.

And I have to confess, whether it is on television or on the iPad, I can’t help but let a tear go when the characters yell, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown” at the end of the book.  It makes me feel like a kid on the inside again.

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