August 11, 2014 4:23 PM EDT

TV doesn’t generally do melancholy, especially at ho-ho-holiday time. Which only makes this special about a loser adopting an anemic Christmas tree, more, well, special. Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz score is a perfect fit for Charles Schulz’s dry humor, as is the subdued, painterly animation. (And the anti-commercialization message is only slightly undercut by knowing that the original contained product placements for Coca-Cola.) Some viewers are turned off by the dated, un-P.C. explicit religiosity—Linus recites a lengthy New Testament passage about the birth of Christ—but to this Jewish-cum-atheist viewer, its honest faith makes the show more authentic.

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