Just like the other Charlie Brown specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has been with me pretty much from the time I became cognizant of moving images on a screen. And it’s always nice to revisit it, even with increasingly-jaded adult eyes. I figured those would be the eyes I used when I watched the DVD my mom gave me a few years back. Here are some observations:
BEFORE WE BEGIN: The previews on the DVD are longer than Thanksgiving vacation from school and I cannot fast-forward past them. While I wait, I cruise the internet and again stumble over people getting their collective (or individual) undies in a bunch over the very idea of celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving is complete. Allow me to address this hot button topic.
-For many years, I, too, was a No Christmas Before Thanksgiving Nazi. But a few years back, I changed my mind. Why? Because Christmas is my favorite time of year and it was patently ridiculous to limit my enjoying it to four or five weeks after Thanksgiving. Why not just start celebrating early and wrap Thanksgiving into the whole holiday season? It’s easy because…
-To be clear, there is no Thanksgiving season. We don’t put up a Turkey tree. We don’t sing Turkey carols. Hell, a lot of people just leave up their orange Halloween lights and leave their pumpkins out because…well, that’s kind of Thankgiving…ish. It’s the hobo of holidays. It should thankful to be included in the Christmas holiday season.
-I’m particularly amused when my left-leaning friends get on their high-horse about it. I keep wanting to tell them (or I actually tell them), “Really? NOBODY can celebrate Christmas until Thanksgiving is over? What about countries that don’t have Thanksgiving? When are they allowed to celebrate? The U.S. has to tell everyone when they’re allowed to celebrate holidays? How very Trumpian of you.” By that point, they’re so apoplectic, I don’t even tell them that their “No Christmas before Thanksgiving” stance is about as intellectually deficient as the “War on Christmas”. Who needs that kind of bloodshed?
Oh hey, the show is starting. (Okay, same rules as It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. The times listed are just what I imagine the times to be. Don’t take them, or anything else in this blog, seriously.)
-Ah, we open with the Lucy-pulls-the-football-away bit. Here’s a little story. A handful of years ago, I knew a couple named Chris and Tammy. They were in my general group of friends and had been dating since high school. Chris had a puppy dog-like adoration of Tammy (underscored by the fact he even kind of looked like a puppy dog). For her part, Tammy loved Chris…and also slept with any guy who had a dong and a pulse (and there were times when I wondered if BOTH those things were a requirement). Tammy was not particularly careful in covering her various dalliances. For a long time, everyone in the group felt sorry for Chris, who was torn up emotionally. But Chris never confronted Tammy or any of her many boyfriends, and never broke up with Tammy. After a while, the general opinion of the group turned. Not that there was any love for Tammy, but we all stopped pitying Chris. If the dude wasn’t going to stand up for himself, why should we keep feeling sorry for him? (The fact many of us had slept with Tammy by this point might have effected the general opinion. I can neither confirm nor deny.)
Regardless, there are only so many times we can see Charlie Brown get screwed over by Lucy with this football thing before we just stop feeling sorry for Charlie Brown. (By the way, I need to stress that nobody in my group slept with Lucy. I have lost any semblance of control over this metaphor. Let’s move on.)
-Given the number of times he flew in the air and hit the deck, you think Charlie Brown later suffered from CTE?
-Apparently, Charlie Brown finds holidays depressing. Almost 50 Charlie Brown specials, a third of them (and all of the best-remembered ones) are holiday specials. What we’re treating ourselves to every year is a depressed little boy’s masochism. Charles Schulz was a monster.
-SALLY: I have to write a report on Stanley Miles.
CHARLIE BROWN: You mean Miles Standish.
SALLY: I can’t keep track of all those people.
CHARLIE BROWN: All those people? It’s ONE f**king guy!
-“I haven’t finished eating all of my Halloween candy!” Wait a minute, didn’t we just do a special last month where you got screwed out of Halloween because of Linus’ crazy religious beliefs? Have you been gaslighted into thinking that didn’t happen? WHAT KIND OF CONTROL DOES LINUS HAVE OVER THIS GIRL?
-Peppermint Patty’s talking to Charlie Brown on the phone. “I know you don’t want to talk because people are probably listening.” There’s your clue that this special was written and created during Watergate.
-How did Peppermint Patty arrange this get-together so quickly? She gets off the phone with Charlie Brown. Three seconds later, she calls back and says Marcy’s agreed to come along and has gotten her parents’ approval. Then about three seconds after that, she calls back with the same news about Franklin. What kind of time warp does Patty live in? Or is she, in fact, The Flash?
-CHARLIE BROWN: Peppermint Patty’s invited herself, Marcy, Franklin, Violet, Lois, Marge, Kirk, Spock, Archie, Spiro Agnew, a bunch of Hell’s Angels and the first line of the Philadelphia Flyers over for dinner.
LINUS: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute…Agnew?
-“I’ve seen you make toast.” And other things I’ve never said to another human being.
-Woodstock hopping through the spinning bike wheel. Classic.
-What the hell is up with Charlie Brown’s garage? I would say it’s the messiest thing I’ve ever seen, but it pales in the face of my friend Mike’s dorm room back in college. Still…
-You ever noticed the whole “Little Birdie” song is about Woodstock and Woodstock doesn’t do a damn thing during most of that sequence? I realize I’m working against popular opinion here, but: f**k Woodstock.
-Linus reads Snoopy the riot act about goofing around. I just want Snoopy to give Linus the finger, like, “Hey, this whole thing wasn’t MY idea. I’m just helping out. And isn’t there a pumpkin patch you should be jerking off in right now?”
-Snoopy vs the Evil Chair. The Peanuts’ version of Ali-Frazier. I’ll admit: when I was a kid, the Evil Chair becoming anthropomorphic and trying to beat the hell out of Snoopy kind of freaked me out. In fact, it still doesn’t do a lot for me. Let’s move on.
-I was going to make a joke about Franklin getting stuck with the Evil Chair at the Thanksgiving dinner. But when I was Googling A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, I discovered this is an actual controversy. When people wonder why we can’t get along and why the country is so divided, I can tell you it’s because THIS IS THE KIND OF NONSENSE WE ARGUE ABOUT!!!
-Ah, the food prep begins, set to the tune of “Linus and Lucy“. I’ve got ask, though: where the hell did all those toasters come from? Seriously, there are more toasters in that kitchen than I’ve owned in my lifetime. Is THAT what the garage is filled with? Toasters? Does Charlie Brown’s dad horde those things? Is this why the Brown family is so unpopular that all the neighbors gave Charlie Brown rocks for Halloween? There’s a surprisingly dark underbelly to this special.
-Woodstock tries to walk away from Snoopy as they’re getting into their pilgrim outfits. Snoopy’s arm extends out of the frame to reach Woodstock. Apparently, Snoopy is actually Plastic Man. Why did we never get the Justice League/Peanuts’ crossover?
-LINUS: (observing Snoopy’s pilgrim costume) Snoopy, you can’t serve the food in that ridiculous outfit.
Ah yes, you have to preserve dignity for a meal of toast, popcorn, pretzels and jelly beans. Linus is a dick.
-Anyone else find it strange that Lucy is largely absent from this special? She’s in the football bit at the start, but then she disappears. In fact, Linus goes to Charlie Brown’s grandma’s house at the end without bringing his sister. Strange. I have to assume Lucy was holding out for more money.
-Charlie Brown greets Franklin with an awkward high five. Of course, he does.
-Linus ends the prayer given by the pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. “We are grateful to our hosts. And look forward to giving them smallpox.”
-Wait, how do you get Patty out of Priscilla? Is Peppermint supposed to be short for Priscilla? What the hell is going on here?
-CHARLIE BROWN: (on the phone with his grandma) No, they haven’t eaten yet. They’ve let me know that in no uncertain terms. In fact, they were real dicks about it.
-When Charlie Brown’s grandma answers the phone, why does Charlie Brown identify himself using his first AND last name? That probably tells you everything you need to know about their relationship. We’re learning some fairly dark things about the Brown family.
-I keep expecting Robert Stack to lean into the back of the station wagon and say, “Kids, that was probably the worst version of ‘Over The River and Through The Woods’ this town’s ever heard. But you got to the punchline.”
-Wait a minute, Snoopy was capable of making a fully-realized Thanksgiving dinner and he went along with that popcorn and toast horses**t? I have to think THAT was his way of giving Linus the finger.
-I always wanted Charlie Brown to pop back in while Snoopy and Woodstock were eating. “Hang on a second, Mom, I just forgot to grab my…what the f**k is this?!!”
-Woodstock wins the wishbone pulling contest and gives us a cute smile as he flies through the air. Thing they never tell you is that he came down in a sewage treatment pond. F**k Woodstock.
-MERRY THANKSGIVING, CHARLIE BROWN!