The parable of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Although a tale about friends getting together for Thanksgiving, the Peanuts special, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, is really a metaphor about family relationships during the holiday. See if this sounds familiar:
Charlie Brown and his sister, Sally, are preparing to go to their grandmother’s home for dinner when Charlie gets a call from Peppermint Patty who has invited herself and two other friends, (Marcie and Franklin), to Charlie’s place for the holiday. Without getting a word in edgewise, Charlie finds himself hosting a Thanksgiving meal knowing nothing about cooking except how to fill a bowl with cold cereal and making toast. Which begs the question…where are the parents?
As one does in such occasions, Charlie is aided in the kitchen with the help of his friend, Linus, his dog Snoopy and the yellow bird, Woodstock, making for a questionably sanitary condition. Together, the quartet produces plates of buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn and jellybeans. The feast is set up in the backyard on a ping-pong table surrounded by lawn chairs. Peppermint Patty arrives in flip-flops (in NOVEMBER!) with her friends in tow and everyone sits down to eat.
After a brief prayer from Linus the theologian and believer of Great Pumpkins, the meal is unveiled. But Peppermint Patty is shocked and then outraged by the display of food. “What’s this?” she bellows. “What blockhead cooked all this? What kind of a Thanksgiving dinner is this? Where’s the turkey, Chuck? Don’t you know anything about Thanksgiving dinners? Where’s the mashed potatoes? Where’s the cranberry sauce? Where’s the pumpkin pie?!” Oh, the humanity.
Disgraced by the public outburst, Charlie Brown excuses himself from the table without a word. After a brief moment of awkward silence, Marcie reminds Patty that Charlie Brown didn’t invite her, but she invited herself and her friends to event and that she hasn’t been a very good model of thankfulness.
Too bad Patty didn’t keep these verses in mind:
“Better to a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Proverbs 15:17
“Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Proverbs 16:19
“Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” Proverbs 17:1
While a very funny cartoon, the ending always bothered me. (Not the part where Woodstock is eating a portion of turkey, but that is disturbing too.) No, it’s the fact that Patty never really apologizes for her behavior. She feels bad, but she begs Marcie to ask forgiveness for her. Poor Charlie, apparently never got around to reading his copy of “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend because he quickly forgives her.
What is it about holidays that bring out the best and worst in people? How many festivities have been ruined because of rude behavior and hurt feelings? How many meals had to be altered due to a power outage or a dropped turkey? How many painful memories have been made because of a family member’s pre-partying? For every practically perfect person who must have everything “just so” there is another one who could care less. Many a home will be decked out with multiple tables pushed together with tablecloths covering unfinished jigsaw puzzles, (at least in my family), not to mention the family picture of everyone sitting around the table just to prove to others that they were actually there. Questionable dishes containing little marshmallows will accompany the “beautiful bird” and half-compliments will abound like “The turkey is nice and moist – Not dry like last year” from clueless relatives. Everyone will overeat while complaining about his or her diets. Half of the crew will watch the football games while the other half will make plans for Black Friday. Many will spend multiple meals in multiple locations due to broken homes trying to keep the day special. Some will spend the day helping in a shelter. Some will spend the day alone with a TV dinner.
Charlie Brown is a hero. Not because he’s incredibly smart or brave, but because he has a good heart. Even with the inconvenience that Patty caused him, he still chose to honor his friendship. He did the difficult thing. We can learn a lot from this story. Will we be the Charlie Brown or will we be the Peppermint Patty?
Although one of the most popular of the Peanuts specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was actually the 10th special produced and aired for the first time in 1973 – eight years after A Charlie Brown Christmas. Originally sponsored by Dolly Madison Snack Cakes, the special aired on CBS and won an Emmy Award the following year. Since 2007, the special has been airing on the ABC network with this year’s showing on November 24 at 8:00 p.m. followed by This is America Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers. Ironically, FOX has announced that they will be airing the new Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown special that same night from 8:30-9:30 p.m. making a 30 minute overlap of Peanuts mayhem for the first time ever!
Originally posted on Examiner.com