Interview: Jill Schulz and Growing Up with A Charlie Brown Christmas

jill schultz interview

Charlie Brown Christmas Linus

Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas has been part of our holiday tradition, as long as I can remember. Being a child of the 80’s, I know I’m not alone in that. But what would it be like growing up with Charles Schulz as your dad? Do you think that your memory of Christmas would be like the one in the movie? Peanuts set up a phone interview with Jill Schulz, daughter of Charles Schulz last week, and she spoke with a group of bloggers about her experiences, growing up with A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Charles Schultz and family

We had a lot of different questions for Jill about growing up with Charles Schulz as her dad, but first we had to ask about Christmas.

What was it like to celebrate Christmas in the Schulz Family?

“Back then, there was not as much merchandise, publicity, worldwide status for Peanuts and Snoopy.” While things seemed more simple as far as the Peanut Franchise went, the Schulz family had what everyone would see as a typical holiday tradition. “We had a pretty typical Christmas, except that we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve. Typically, we’d have neighborhood friends and kids coming over and my mom cooked a great big dinner. Then we’d wait for Santa Claus, I’d always sneak back down and open a window because I thought there was no way he could fit down the chimney.”

But it wasn’t long until the TV Show and the Franchise began to grow. As it did, it was incorporated into the family tradition. “Once the TV show came out, that became a tradition: both Christmas and Halloween, they became something we’d gather around TV to watch. But to me, it just seemed like a normal family Christmas.” Just like our household and family to this day, the TV special became a part of the yearly tradition.

And for Christmas now for Jill’s family? “After those big Christmases as a kid, I had to get adjusted to having Christmases with just my husband and my two kids. It felt so small. I tried to do the same traditions, watch the special, do the presents.”

Was there anything in the special that was similar to your childhood?

There are so many questions about where Charles Schulz got his inspiration. We all can relate to some of the characters in the show, but was there anything specific that Jill could relate to her life?

“There are elements that are supposed to come from my family. Like Lucy’s crabbiness came from Meredith. I’m told that Linus has a blanket because I always had a blanket.” But I can’t say there’s anything specific in the special.” Now, we know where the iconic Linus blanket comes from!

Why do you suppose after 50 years, it’s still resonating with people?

“Because the characters, the experiences they have, in the strip and the TV show are things that every generation has, does, and will continue to experience in life. Football with Charlie Brown. Everyone experiences losing. Everyone comments on commercialism. It’s been happening for years, will continue to happen. Siblings teasing each other, fighting, even if they love each other.” There are so many things for everyone to relate to, and still are today.

Tell me about ice skating and Snoopy.

The special wasn’t the only thing that started to grow for the Peanut Franchise. Soon the idea of Snoopy on Ice was born. Jill’s mom made the original Snoopy costume, and Jill was the first to play Snoopy! “Way back when I was 9 or 10 and ice skating, they decided to build a Snoopy costume to have him in the ice show. My mom made the first Snoopy costume. Someone else was supposed to be in it, and he didn’t show up. So I was the first skating Snoopy, skating to Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. It was hard to see-I remember falling over on the ice, but I got up and waved.  I’m too claustrophobic now, so can’t do it anymore.”

The Snoopy on Ice Show continues to grow after all of these years! “Now we just need to get an Extreme Beagle out there.  Get Snoopy dropping on the mega ramp.”

Who’s your favorite Peanuts character and why?

“My absolute favorite is Snoopy because I like his imagination and his free spirit, how he imagines whatever he wants to be.  I had a pretend friend as a kid that everyone teased me about.  And because he’s a dog and I love rescue animals. Then it would be Linus, because I like how calm he remains, how philosophical he is.”

Where do you see the franchise in 10 years?

“We’d like to see it grow, to continue the legacy of my dad and keep the characters out there. But there’s a careful line between keeping the integrity of my dad’s characters and creating enough new material to keep it fresh for new generations.”

With new Peanuts and Snoopy products coming out all the time, collectors and a lot more, there is no doubt in my mind the franchise will be around for years to come!


  1. I miss our tradition we had before I got married. We would always go to the movies. My parents are only children so we would have one big gathering at noonish with both sets of grandparents with the meal and presents.

  2. making the Sugar cookies and decorating them for all the neighbor and or Christ mas church celebration is one of my favorite things to do with all the kids it takes us a week to make all the cookies and about 3 days to decorate and package them all– It just puts us in the spirit

  3. When my grandparents were alive (my moms parents) we would all gather on Christmas day at their house. All the Aunts, Uncles, cousins and as we got older the cousins spouses and the children of the cousins. This kept up until a few years after my grandfather passed away in 1991.
    I so miss all the grear times we had as a family. Seeing
    everyone every year. I pull out my moms photo album from time to time and look at the pictures of each family taken in front of grandma’s tree every year. Seeing how everyone has changed from year to year.
    We lost grandma in 2011. Christmas just doesn’t feel the same since. I MISS YOU MAMAW AND LOVE YOU.

  4. The older I get, the less I seem to celebrate the holidays, but I do have to say that watching the Peanuts Christmas special is one tradition I can’t give up!

  5. During the Thanksgivings Holiday when out family is all together we take one afternoon and make Christmas Ornaments to be given away with our cookies– thats always alot of fun

  6. When I was little it was always a big deal to watch the Macy’s Parade and then to go downtown to look at all the Christmas displays in the big stores– we dont have anything like it here in Southern Idaho

  7. one of my favorite things I have done every year is I give each of my children a new ornament on the the day we decorate the Christmas tree– they have a a box of each there own with all there decorations– by the time they move out they all should have a pretty nice collection of ornaments there 1st year for three first tree– each is dated

  8. One tradition that my husband family was always new p.j.’s for Christmas, so thats a must we always do– Its so much fun to get new snuggley pj for Christmas Eve

  9. I make hot chocolate that we take with when we go and cut down our Christmas Tree and then we come back to the house and play games and listen to Christmas music!

  10. I always loved Easter as a Kid but nothing could top Christmas! We always put out coffee and cookies for Santa. Found out after i was older we put out coffee because my dad would drink it after we went to bed!


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