By the early 1960s, Charles M. Schulz's comic strip Peanuts had become a sensation worldwide. Television producer Lee Mendelson acknowledged the strip's cultural impression and had an idea for a documentary on its success, phoning Schulz to propose the idea. Schulz, an avid baseball fan, recognized Mendelson from his documentary on ballplayer Willie Mays, A Man Named Mays, and invited him to his home in Sebastopol, California, to discuss the project. Their meeting was cordial, with the plan to produce a half-hour documentary set. Mendelson wanted to feature roughly "one or two" minutes of animation, and Schulz suggested animator Bill Melendez, with whom he collaborated some years before on a spot for the Ford Motor Company.
Charlie Brown arrives at the rehearsal, but he is unable to gain control of the situation, since everyone in the play has their own complaints, and everybody would rather dance along to the jazz-rock band (consisting of Schroeder on keyboards, Snoopy on an inaudible electric guitar and Pig-Pen on bass) as they play "Linus and Lucy." The play is revealed to be quite modern, with an upbeat jazz score, a "Christmas queen," shepherds, innkeepers and penguins but no identifiable Biblical figures. A displeased Charlie Brown decides the play needs "the proper mood" and suggests they should get a Christmas tree. Lucy instructs him, and the accompanying Linus, to get an aluminum Christmas tree that is big, shiny and pink from a nearby tree lot.