Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

 

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It came around in 1973. It was an instant classic, and became an annual tradition in millions of homes across America.

Our Home was one of those. I was just twenty-four years old. Way too old to like cartoons. But then, The Peanuts Gang has never really been a cartoon. More like a tiny slice of life.

It was the tenth prime-time animated TV special based on the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schultz.

Originally aired on CBS on November 20, 1973, it won an Emmy Award the following year. It has aired every year since on prime-time television, currently on ABC. It never seems to get old. But then, the gang never ages either.

If only I could have learned that trick.

It opens with Lucy once again holding the football for Charlie to kick. And once again promising to not pull it away. She couldn’t anyway, she explains, because football on Thanksgiving Day is a sacred tradition. It would be a violation of that sacredness to pull it away. Charlie takes it all in, of course–hook, line and sinker. He charges the ball, absolutely secure in the knowledge that at least this once, on this day, he is going to be able to kick that ball.

Of course, at the last instant, Lucy pulls it away, and Charlie ends up on his back once more.

It’s kind of nice to know that some things never change.

It goes on to a “wonderful” Thanksgiving dinner hosted by Charlie and the gang, and conducted by Snoopy. It’s on a Ping-Pong table, and set-up in the backyard, oddly reminiscent of that first celebration, so many centuries ago.

Different from the Pilgrim feast however, is the menu fare. Charlie’s consists of Buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, and jelly beans.

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Peppermint Patty takes exception, much to the embarrassment of Charlie.

They all take off  to grandma’s house, where of course, in typical Peanuts Gang style, everyone is fed, and everything turns out all right.

The credits roll at the end over an image of those two greatest friends of all time, Snoopy and Woodstock, devouring a large piece of pumpkin pie.

Set to the jazz music of Vince Guaraldi, he even contributes a very rare vocal track during the “Little Birdie” scene.

It’s thirty minutes (less on DVD, sans the commercials) guaranteed to warm your heart.

It certainly did at our house, way back in ’73. And it did it for many years more, a must-watch, in the several preceding days before the big celebration–It’s warmth adding to the glow of family, friends, and spiced desserts.

It continues to do the same today. After all, as I noted, the gang never ages.

And neither do family memories, friends, love, tradition and quality. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving still packs the emotion wallop and retains the same magnificent quality as it did on that first night, way back when, that autumn evening, forty-one years ago.

Give it a watch. I’m sure you will agree.

See you all after Turkey Day. Then . . . we begin our countdown to CHRISTMAS.

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The First Thanksgiving – Origins of a Feastday, and a Fantasy

 

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We’ve all seen the clip art. Smiling Pilgrims, Indians and happy turkeys. We’ve seen the detailed oil painting from the era as well. Currier and Ives stuff. They warm the heart. They make us feel as though we really know what transpired on that day (actually three days) so long ago. We feel that we understand the events leading up to it. We feel connected. Art, become history.

But what do we really know?

Turns out . . . not much. Most of the historical information is pretty sketchy. Some things, however–we do know.

(From the Huffington Post – 11/21/11)

“If you happen to spend Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts this year, you can choose between two public commemorations. You can watch the official parade, in which townspeople dressed like Pilgrims march to Plymouth Rock bearing blunderbusses and beating drums. Or you can stand on top of Coles Hill with indigenous people and their supporters, and fast, in observance of what they call a ‘National day of mourning’ in remembrance if the destruction of Native American culture and peoples.”

“In fact, the end times began for Massachusetts Indians several years earlier, when British slaving crews inadvertently introduced smallpox–carried by their infected cattle–to coastal New England killing over ninety percent of local populations, who lacked antibodies to fight the disease.”

“This was a rather astonishing figure compared to the 30 percent death rates at the height of the European Black Plague.”

Apparently, it wasn’t all warmth and fuzziness back then in the colonies.

Modern day stories tell of compassionate Indians taking pity on the white colonialists, and bringing corn and other foodstuffs to see them through that first disastrous winter.

The corn, or maize, as it was then called, was far more likely stolen from the Indians. And were the Indians invited to the celebratory dinner? Well, probably not. Seems the whites may have been shooting off guns in celebration of the harvest, and the Indians, simply curious about what was going on–crashed the party.

There were probably far too many for the Pilgrims to politely ask to leave the festivities.

And if the Indians were being compassionate, it was probably pretty short-sighted of them, as not too long after this first Thanksgiving, the whites fanned out west across the continent, exterminating as many Indians as possible–and in as short a time as the then modern technology would allow.

The Gatling Gun soon replaced the Blunderbuss.

At any rate, it all became part of our folklore– part of our shared national memory. And if the truth is a little blurred and frayed around the edges? Well, what the matter? It never is a good idea to let the facts stand in the way of a good story anyhow.

An awful lot of turkeys have paid the price since then.

cornucopia for autumn
cornucopia for autumn

What was really on the menu? Sad news for the modern day birds, it seems turkey was not one of the items. More likely wild fowl of some kind, most probably ducks and geese–along with venison, corn mush, stewed pumpkin, or traditional Indian succotash.

No cranberry sauce or green olives in sight, and definitely no afternoon football either.

It is a wonder that the tradition survived, but survive it did. That translates to some pretty bad news for about forty-six million turkeys per year. That’s Thanksgiving day alone, with many more on Christmas, New Years Day, and even Easter.

America is a tough place to be a Turkey. Apparently the only safe ones are in Congress.

I’d like to take a moment to wish all of you, my loyal readers, a most Happy Thanksgiving Day, and a wonderful Christmas to follow as well.

As the Pilgrims gave thanks to the man up above for deliverance from that first hard winter, and for the bountiful harvest that followed the next Fall–let us be ever thankful for good friends, good health, wonderful family, and all our many other blessing.

May the grace of God be with you all, on this day, and always.

 

Until the next time .  .  . Good Night.

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