"It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It's a classic that has held up for decades for a reason - it's awesome. Okay, maybe there are several reasons.
In addition to being entertaining and having lots of heart, there's a lot of truth in this Halloween show. Here are a few of the life lessons from "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" that I hope my teen and other older kids take to heart.
1. You don't always get what you want.
Admittedly, one never really thinks of Charles Schulz and Mick Jagger in the same breath, but I did after typing #1. You don't always get what you want. And that's certainly true in "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."
Linus doesn't get to see the Great Pumpkin, Sally doesn't get a lot of candy, Charlie Brown gets a rock instead of candy when trick-or-treating. This television special is riddled with disappointment. And yet, it's still hopeful, charming and uplifting.
In the book It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic, producer Lee Mendelson recounts Charles Schulz saying, "[T]he Great Pumpkin is really a kind of satire on Santa Claus, because Linus of course writes for gifts and expects to get them. And when the Great Pumpkin doesn't come, Linus is crushed. It shows that you can't always get what you hoped for but you can still survive . . . and you can keep trying. Linus never gives up, just like Charlie Brown."
1a. Hope springs eternal.
These may seem to be opposed, but "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" shows how hope and disappointment can coexist.
Linus' hope that the Great Pumpkin will appear is endearing, and we all hope that Charlie Brown is right that he really can trust Lucy about holding the football still for him to kick. We can be disappointed that it didn't happen this time and simultaneous hope for better results next time.
Poor Sally. She loves Linus and jumps at the chance to wait for the Great Pumpkin with him in the pumpkin patch. At the end of the show, however, she regrets her choice. She realizes that her friends had a sugar-fueled good time without her.
It's possible that "sisters before misters" and other similar sayings may not be totally wrong. I'm not saying that one-on-one time with the object of your affection is bad. It's not, but consider carefully what you could be giving up, especially when the red flags are there, and strive for balance.
3. Think ahead.
"Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker." - Linus
On a literal level, he's right. Don't do it. It will not end well, and no sucker should be wasted.
That advice applies on other levels, too. Try to foresee possible pitfalls and do what you can to prepare for success.
4. Choose your discussion topics carefully.
"There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin." - Linus
While I'm not saying Linus' use of the word "never" is an absolute, chances are that other topics are a little less inflammatory. Be mindful, especially during election season, that some people are just really tired of dealing with politics.
If you're looking for a real discussion, that's great, but make sure others in the conversation are also looking for a spirited debate on the topic. (And if not, try something along the lines of best band, perfect movie, yummiest snack food.) If you're looking for someone to agree with you, chances are that you'll find more common ground and agreement on other topics.
5. Set clear boundaries.
"If you try to hold my hand, I'll slug you." - Sally to Linus in the pumpkin patch.
I'm not advocating leading with a threat of violence, but Sally is a great example of a girl who is romantically interested but very firm in her boundaries and letting Linus know up front what her expectations are.
Although Lucy's request "Can I have an extra piece of candy for my stupid brother?" when trick-or-treating is not phrased in the kindest manner, she's being considerate and looking out for her sibling, which is awesome. When she brings him inside and tucks him in bed, she may be scowling but there's no mistaking her care for him. It's proof that your siblings may drive you crazy, but you keep on loving them.
Also remember that friends are the family we choose, and being kind to them matters are great deal.
While we're at it, let's just put in a plug for kindness to everyone, as often as possible. That's a real treat.
When Schroeder plays the piano in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", Snoopy jauntily dances along. When the music turns maudlin, he is moved to tears. It's really sweet. Adolescence is a time of big feelings, and finding ways to channel those emotions, be it through art, music, theater, writing or something else, can be a wonderful outlet.
You May Also Like: 12 fun facts you didn't know about "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"
Prior Post: Songs for parents of tweens and teens
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