Rudolph put up a valiant fight, and so did the Grinch. Even little Ralphie Parker gave it his best shot. But in the end, no one had enough firepower to vanquish the all-powerful Peanuts gang.

That's how our first Holiday TV Tournament went down. The voters have had their say: "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the most beloved yuletide program of all time.

And, good grief, it wasn't even close.

Four weeks ago, the tourney started with 32 iconic holiday keepsakes. The field gradually was pared down until we were left with a titanic clash between your favorite animated special ("Charlie Brown") vs. the top movie ("A Christmas Story"). Several readers complained that it wasn't a fair fight -- an apples-to-oranges sort of thing. But the tough choice had to be made.

And so the battle raged on, with "Christmas Story" taking an early lead. But ultimately, "Charlie Brown's" potent blend of sentiment, sarcasm and smooth jazz was too much to overcome.

Honestly, it was a victory we saw coming. "Charlie Brown" went into the tourney as our No. 1 seed on the animated-specials side of the bracket and was easily the top vote-getter in the first round as it walloped "A Garfield Christmas." It then went on to throttle "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" before topping fellow holiday hall-of-famers "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Since its debut in 1965, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" has been a holiday heirloom handed down through the generations. With a low-key, yet powerful, plea against seasonal commercialism, it continues to offer comfort and joy.


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When "A Charlie Brown Christmas" celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2005, we asked Karen Johnson, director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, to explain its timeless appeal.

"It has lasted all these years partly because it touches upon all our vulnerabilities and our senses of wonder. People can see themselves in it," she said. "That, and of course, it's very funny."

Read Chuck Barney's TV blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/tv and follow him at http://twitter.com/chuckbarney.