It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

My nostalgic sensitivities are pretty-well evenly-split between Halloween and Christmas. I love both holidays, and nothing says “holidays” to me like the two classic Peanuts TV specials: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) and A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965).

I grew  up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. I loved Peanuts comic books as a kid and read the Sunday morning funnies religiously (no pun intended…honest). I still have plenty of old Peanuts comic books lying around.  I read them from time to time just to remind myself of their simple charm – part of which is the smell of the old, yellowed pages with their soft, worn edges and slightly smudged print ink.

It was Schroeder’s love of Beethoven that inspired a 12-year-old kid (me) to purchase a “Best of Beethoven” LP one year.  I became a fan.

It was the entire Peanuts gang that inspired my regular use of “good grief” as an expression. That sure has come in handy over the years.

Above and beyond all this, it somehow renews my spirit to experience It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown each year. The CBS airing of this special officially ushered-in the holiday season during my childhood, as it may have yours.

The beauty of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is in its intelligent humor, its color, its spiritual depth, and of course its music.

Who doesn’t laugh at Charlie Brown’s repeated trick-or-treat lament of “I got a rock!”?

The sloppy animated artwork of these TV specials (the animation art was not done by Charles Schulz) has been blasted by critics, but over time there is a certain charm in the artwork and (particularly for me) the vivid colors in this special.

The spiritual (esp. Christian) undertones in all of Charles Schulz’s work is a beautiful thing as well.   The Great Pumpkin only rewards sincere faith – not hypocritical “believers”.

Finally, the music of the incredible Vince Guaraldi Trio is just a treat in itself.  My favorite selection from the Halloween special is this one…

Peanuts was such a huge staple in the 1970’s and 1980’s, hardly a day went by that kids weren’t reminded of the characters.  I remember one of my favorite lunch treats when mom would buy them…rasberry Zingers.   Remember the box that looked like this?

In support of this mass-marketing effort, during the Charlie Brown specials, they often aired commercials like this one…

Well, as you can see, Peanuts meant a lot to me as I was growing up.  Maybe it did to you, too.  This time of year always causes me to pause and reflect on these fond memories from childhood.  Thanks for indulging me.

Now, I’m off to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  I wonder if he’ll show up this year…


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