Well, it’s Thanksgiving again, and I’m out of the country yet again. That’s a bummer because Thanksgiving is great. But at least we’ll be celebrating a bit in my class this evening –I even made some pies and everything!
My students and I have been doing a bit of research and a few lessons related to Thanksgiving, and so of course I came across “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” I used to watch these Peanuts holiday specials almost constantly as a kid, or at least I think I did (and my mom seemed to confirm it). I had showed my class “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” to less-than rave reviews, so I’ll not be showing this video tonight (I will, however, show a Simpsons Thanksgiving episode). But if you’ve not checked out the Peanuts’ take on the holiday, you really owe it to yourself to see how weird these specials actually are. Here’s the Thanksgiving one:
Now, if you actually made it through that, good for you. However, if you didn’t, rest assured: it is fairly bizarre in parts. You can definitely see that the kids of the day must have really loved Snoopy, since in both this video and the Great Pumpkin he’s got a few scenes of a couple minutes each where he just does things that don’t really move the plot forward at all. You’d have a hard time finding that in today’s cartoons (especially if you consider Great Pumpkin, which has got a 1- or 2-minute scene with Snoopy where he’s apparently hallucinating that he’s a World War I flying ace…yay Halloween!).
The Thanksgiving one does have a great scene with toast around 8:20, though. Gotta give it that. Toast is possibly my favorite food. It’s just so versatile.
Plus, having actual kids do the voices gives both videos an eerie touch, and the dialogue is also very high-level stuff that even I need to listen to closely to understand. So in that sense, it’s not even aimed at kids, necessarily, but then who is it aimed at? The thing that I think is weirdest about this one, though, is Snoopy and Woodstock’s dinner at the end. Dude, Woodstock the bird is eating turkey. Isn’t that nearly cannibalism?
Anyhow, don’t get me wrong: I love Thanksgiving (like I said here a few years ago), and I think it’s great. But as we enjoy our dinners and time with our families, let’s not forget the hardships our forebears had to suffer in the 1970s and 80s, when there were so few high-quality Thanksgiving-themed TV specials to choose from. And me? I’m just thankful for my patient mom, who had to put up with us watching Peanuts-themed holiday specials for the last three months of every year!
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