Seven-year-old enjoys a fun night discovering true meaning of Christmas

Published in the January 2 – 15, 2019 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Brandt Sherman

Photo by Marty Cheek
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” played at Gilroy Gardens through the end of the year.

A rattlesnake roller coaster, blue cotton candy, and magical lights on circus trees, these are a few of my favorite things for simply having a wonderful Christmas time at Gilroy Gardens.

My mom, Brittney Sherman, and I met Morgan Hill Life Publisher Marty Cheek at the front of the Hecker Pass family theme park as the sun set Saturday, Dec. 15. After going through the ticket gate, we crossed a wooden bridge with Christmas spirit lights twinkling from overhead tree branches. The first order of business was to go to the Banana Split ride.

The three of us sat in the seat at the far end of the giant yellow banana-shaped swinging ship ride. The ride attendant made sure the safety bar was latched. The banana started moving and we went back and forth, each time getting higher and higher. At the peak of a swing just when we started to drop, I felt like I was going to fly out of my seat. It made me feel like I was going to fly to the sky. My stomach felt disgusting. It was fun!

Next, we went on the Timber Twister Coaster. This rattlesnake-shaped kiddie coaster has a head with a snake sticking out its tongue and at the back is a big rattle. Between are the seats. My mom and I sat together and Marty sat behind us and videotaped the ride. You can see the video on YouTube at The snake coaster rolls really fast and goes two times around the track.

Peanuts character Linus recites a passage about Jesus Christ’s birth during the Gilroy Gardens show “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
Photo by Marty Cheek

We wandered over to the enclosed Monarch Garden and saw decorated Christmas trees inside. Santa Claus was posing with kids for holiday photos, but I didn’t want to meet him. Instead, we continued strolling around the park looking at the decorated lights. Suddenly, we saw a ride we just could not pass up — the Mushroom Swings. Before that night, I used to be too short to go on this ride. I’ve grown a little taller and saw that I now measured up. We got on our swings, made sure that the safety latches were on, and then the ride started rising and turning. Hanging onto the long chains, the three of us started flying through the trees as the giant mushroom twirled. I looked up and saw the moon overhead. It felt like I was soaring through space.

We next went for a ride on the Panoramic Wheel, a mini-Ferris wheel, and went around and around in our gondola. I liked how it went high and we could see the park at night all lit up with the holiday colors. That was followed by a ride on the South County Backroads. We got into an old-fashioned looking car and went for a spin around the track. I tried to bumper-car another driver, but the tracks wouldn’t let me get to them. That’s a good thing.

After our drive, we went to a vender kiosk and mom bought me raspberry-flavor cotton candy in a bag. Marty was impressed with how fast I devoured this sweet treat. My mouth was colored all blue, so my mom had to take me to a restroom and wash it off. This was followed by another ride on the Banana Split swing-ship, followed up by a ride on the horses of Gilroy Gardens’ vintage carousel built in 1927 by M.C. Illions.

That was our last ride of the night. As 7 p.m. approached, we got hot chocolate and went to the park’s amphitheater and watched a live stage show called “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I got to dance with the world’s most famous dog — Snoopy!

The 20-minute show had songs and dancing and humor. But most of all, it taught the audience about the true meaning of the Christmas spirit. During the show, Lucy wanted presents like jewelry, but her younger brother Linus read about the Christmas story from the Bible to remind them what the holiday is really about:

Brandt Sherman takes a moment for a photo with his mom, Brittney Sherman, among the holiday lights.
Photo by Marty Cheek

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, said: “Christmas is about the feelings you get this time of year. It’s about spending time with loved ones, sharing a slice of fruitcake and cheer with the ones you care most about.”

Lucy said: “Fruitcake! I hate fruitcake! That’s as gross as dog germs.”

Snoopy at this point sneaked up and gave her a smacking big kiss on the cheek.

“Gross!” Lucy exclaimed. “Dog germs. I have been given dog germs. Blahh! I bet that mangy mutt gave me an infection.”

Linus joked: “Well, Lucy, you should be thankful at least you got something.”

Lucy said: “Linus Van Pelt, would you like me to give you something? – like a big old punch in the nose!”

“The holidays can make some people a little edgy,” Linus reflected.

They decided to lighten the mood by singing the song “Jingle Bells.” People from the audience started dancing with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang.

As the kids and parents got back in their seats from dancing, the show’s narrator said, “Hey, Charlie Brown, what do you want for Christmas?”

“All I really want for Christmas is to meet the little red-haired girl, a new food dish for Snoopy, and to finally kick the football,” he said.

Brandt and Brittney Sherman in the gondola of the Panoramic Wheel at Gilroy Gardens.
Photo by Marty Cheek

The narrator asked: “What about you, Linus?”

“My wish is a simple one,” he said. “I wish for peace on earth and good will towards men.”

Sally asked: “Hey, guys, do you notice something wrong?”

It turned out that the Christmas tree on the stage wasn’t lit up. Snoopy tried to fix the problem by plugging in the electricity, but he got zapped instead.

Sally said: “OK, OK everyone. Calm down. No need to panic. I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation.”

“Maybe it would help if we added a little bit of true, heart-felt Christmas spirit,” Linus said.

Sally said, “Oh, Linus, you’re my smart and Sweet Babboo.”

“I am not your Sweet Babboo!” Linus exclaimed. “I think if everyone here helped us by saying ‘Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,’ we can create enough true Christmas spirit to light our tree.”

He started off on a chant: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” Everyone in the audience joined him. Bells started ringing — and suddenly the Christmas tree lit up. Artificial snow started falling on the audience to gasps from the crowd.

“Isn’t it just spectacular?” Linus asked.

“It really is great,” Lucy said. “I think I finally understand the true meaning of Christmas.”


The Peanuts characters all gave a cheer and said: “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

Then, the show started playing the song “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” as the audience got up and danced with Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.

Publisher Marty Cheek helped Brandt Sherman, a 7-year-old first-grader at Barrett Elementary School, write this story.

Marty Cheek