In the words of Charlie Brown himself: “We’ve got ANOTHER holiday to worry about. It seems Thanksgiving Day is upon us.” And for me that means continuing the tradition of watching yet another Charlie Brown holiday special. And in addition to that tradition, I’ve started a mini-tradition of writing about the conditions that led to this tradition, as detailed in my previous column about the Halloween special.
Charlie Brown is a boy of infinite wishy-washiness, so when in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Peppermint Patty invites herself to Charlie Brown’s non-existent Thanksgiving meal, he’s stuck wondering how he’s supposed to cook a Turkey dinner when he can’t cook. Soon Marcie and Franklin are added to the guest list, and the complications are tripled. The Brown family is due at Charlie Brown’s grandmother’s house for the actual dinner, so what’s a little round-headed kid to do?
Growing up, Thanksgiving meant the annual arrival of a family member that was essentially a distended gut with vague man-shapes glued around it. This omnivorous creature would arrive in a whirlwind of desire, greedily suck down a nauseating amount of food, and then depart into the unsuspecting world sweating pure gravy. He was one of those people that you’re duty-bound to invite even though you don’t want him there, and he prides himself on making everyone around him as uncomfortable as possible.
In a way, the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special was that great beaming signal that, once more, it was over, and we had leftovers and pies in our future with none of the stress. With our house reclaimed and our food no longer on the endangered species list, we could slump into our seats and commiserate with Charlie Brown and his horror at the impending unwanted company. Year after year, there was Charlie Brown, ready and waiting to let us know that we had made it through another Thanksgiving, sanity (mostly) intact.
As with anything, those times ended. Thanksgiving has shifted from a stressful and unpleasant time to an enjoyable and relaxing one. But that doesn’t mean that Charlie Brown’s importance has been diminished or forgotten. It has remained a fixture of Thanksgiving. For many, it may not be Thanksgiving unless they have turkey and gravy, or pumpkin pie and apple pie. While I love those things, I can’t really call it Thanksgiving unless I see some grumpy round-headed kids staring at plates full of jellybeans, pretzel sticks and popcorn and wondering where the hell the turkey was. I mean, sure, I guess those early Thanksgiving meals with the Indians (okay, Native Americans) and Pilgrims didn’t have A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to watch, but wouldn’t everything have been a lot better if they had?
More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving is about traditions. Some may be into parades, some into football, others may look forward to the extreme discounts of Black Friday, and as always there’s the tons and tons of turkeys and cranberry sauce.
Good grief, the pies.