Glum Charlie Brown questioned the true meaning of Christmas in the 1965 TV special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and in defiance of commercialism and the shiny, sparkly aspects of the season, he bought a dumpy, nearly bald tree with the strength and needles to hold but a single ornament.
South Milwaukee’s Anna Spankowski has been buying "Charlie Brown trees" for many years – but for different reasons.
"They are so much fun!" says Spankowski. "I started buying them when I got sick of bending my fake tree into shape every year, so I wanted a real tree. My husband was anti-spending money on a real one that year, so I was on the hunt for cheap."
Spankowski and her family, which includes her husband and teen sons, bought their "Charlie Brown" trees at the Milwaukee Public Market, which in past years had a range of trees from large and lush to plain and Peanuts-esque.
At first, Spankowski’s sons were less enthused about the prospect of scrappy trees, but once she got the lights on and they saw the transformation happening, they loved it.
"I think that is why I always got ‘Charlie Brown’ trees. You start with something so laughable, and when you are done, everyone loves it. It is a true Christmas transformation," she says.
This year, however, the Public Market is not selling trees. So the Spankowskis went to Buffalo Bill's Choose & Cut Christmas Trees instead, hoping they could find a scraggly tree at a high-end tree farm.
"Buffalo Bill's trees start around $50, but Charlie Brown trees have to be low-priced and awkward and I was determined," says Spankowski. "I found the 'budget tree' section in the back. Not all were perfect, and they were still more money than the Public Market trees, but we finally found our gem."
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.