Good Grief, It’s Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks with help from Charlie Brown and the “Peanuts” Gang

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

There’s just something so satisfying about waking up to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television and then traveling to my uncle’s house for an afternoon turkey dinner.

I love everything about it. When I worked at a party supplies store, I even looked forward to leading my fellow employees in a “hand turkey” craft.

If you don’t remember making one in grade school, it’s when you trace the outline of your hand with a crayon and decorate it to look like a turkey, as your thumb represents the head and fingers its feathers.

Another of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is watching my old VHS tape of “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” which I’ve always thought was underrated and overshadowed by the “Peanuts” Christmas and Halloween television specials.

In the special, Charlie Brown unintentionally invites Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin over for Thanksgiving dinner, which turns out to be plates of toast, popcorn, pretzel sticks and jelly beans prepared in the kitchen by Snoopy.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to gain some insight into “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” courtesy of Jean Schulz, the wife of late “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz.

She was answering questions on the social media Web site, so I typed a question — “Could you please offer any thoughts as to what inspired the storyline?’ — and crossed my fingers waiting for a response.

A response did soon come, as Jean wrote: “…it was funny to him the idea of kids putting on their own dinner — of things they liked and could make, like toast and popcorn and jelly beans” and “then there’s a whole thing about Woodstock being a bird and that being what people eat on Thanksgiving and at least we’re not eating him — so I think it was all that silliness.”

Of course, the most important part of Thanksgiving is expressing our gratefulness to God for all of our blessings. Charles Schulz seemed to never pass up an opportunity to insert religious views or theologyinto his work.

Before the backyard Thanksgiving meal, Linus says a prayer: “In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought 90 of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Gov. William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William
Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: ‘We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice’.”

Happy Thanksgiving! (And remember to save the wishbone for Woodstock.)