Friday, November 26, 2021

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving surprised me with its heart

Our son surprised us by asking to watch the Peanuts Thanksgiving special on Thanksgiving. 

Earlier this year, he’d wanted to see It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and we were surprised at how bleak it was. So we weren’t sure what A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving would be like.

While it’s probably the most prominent animated Thanksgiving special (there aren’t a lot), it’s no A Charlie Brown Christmas so let’s get a summary going.




In A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, the conflict comes from Peppermint Patty inviting herself, as well as Maurcie and Franklin to the Browns for Thanksgiving dinner. However, Charlie Brown will be celebrating Thanksgiving with his grandmother. His hastily thrown togoether meal disappoints Peppermint Party but Marcie points out hypocrisy. In the end, Grandma Brown invites everyone to her condominium for a traditional meal.

While there is a scene where a chair comes to life and fights an epic battle with Snoopy, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is surprisingly grounded. Really, if a group of elementary school kids were to try to throw together a feast, popcorn, toast, pretzel sticks and jellybeans seems pretty believable. The special feels even more slice of life than usual for a Peanuts special.

As a grownup, the conflict in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving takes on a different tone. Peppermint Party invites herself into the Browns’ Thanksgiving because her dad has been called out of town and she’s all alone. 

While it is barely touched on, Peppermint Patty has a single parent home. (I remember Marcie’s mom made her a skating dress because Peppermint Patty didn’t have a mom) Unlike Charlie Brown being in the unrealistic position of getting a Christmas tree (something a grown up would be expected to do), Peppermint Patty’s situation is very believable.

And when Marcie calls her out on she imposed on Charlie Brown and then blamed him for not living up to her expectations, Peppermint Patty feels bad and apologizes. I can’t see Lucy doing that.

While the situation isn’t as ‘big’ as the Christmas or Halloween specials, the stakes in the Thanksgiving special are more grounded and thus hit home on a different level. I found it surprisingly effective.

A Charlie Brown Christmas was a medium-changing work that has informed animated specials in general ever since it’s creation. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving can’t touch that but it surprised me with its sweetness.

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