[Just so you know, the 50th (!!) anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas airs tonight at 9 pm on ABC—with a 50th anniversary special convening right before at 8 pm. Those who have been following me for years already know that this cartoon has haunted me for my entire life... but many of you may have forgotten why. And so, here is my original article from way back in 2004 which explains my complicated relationship with A Charlie Brown Christmas. Enjoy!—Wm. Steven Humphrey]

Everyone has their own holiday traditions—I'm no different. Every Christmas Eve, I dump my leftover cocaine down the toilet, lock up the gun and liquor cabinet, and watch the most depressing, most potentially suicidal holiday special ever produced, A Charlie Brown Christmas. And while there have been scads of mood-ruining holiday shows, no other Christmas special even comes close to plummeting the viewer into a bottomless abyss of complete and utter despair.

Don't believe me? Then heed this true tale of holiday woe. The time: Christmas Eve, 1985. The scene: The Humphrey family's cabin in rural Tennessee. Snow blanketed the ground, the trees were covered in ice, and genial holiday warmth hung in the air. The charming cabin was decorated to the hilt, smelling of pine needles, gingerbread cookies, and rum-filled nog. In true holiday form, joyous cries of happy children and tipsy adults rang out into the night.

Then, my Aunt Wanda uttered the words that would change our lives forever.

"Hey! What do you say we gather up the kids and watch that Charlie Brown special on the TV?"

And with those 19 words, our perfect holiday went to SHIT.