A Charlie Brown Christmas remains an unquestioned holiday classic even decades after its debut, and everyone remembers Linus waiting on Halloween to get a glimpse of a certain jack-o’-lantern in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. But there’s another Peanuts holiday special that has never seemed to garner the same level of love. We should all be a lot more thankful for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, because it’s a touching tribute to one of America’s best days. Here are five reasons Charlie Brown’s turkey day special shouldn’t be overlooked.
1. It Honors the True Spirit of the Holiday
While it also features some great Snoopy and Woodstock segments, the primary story revolves around Peppermint Patty inviting herself, Marcie, and Franklin over to Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving dinner… despite the fact that Charlie Brown can’t cook, and was planning to spend the day at his grandmother’s. Rather than disappoint his friends or family, Charlie Brown enlists Snoopy and Linus to prepare buttered toast for an early friends dinner before he heads off to grandma’s. When Peppermint Patty gets mad about the subpar meal and hurts Charlie Brown’s feelings, Marcie explains to everyone the real meaning of the day.
“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck. You heard what Linus was saying out there. Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too. We should just be thankful for being together. I think that’s what they mean by ‘Thanksgiving,’ Charlie Brown.”
It’s a simple, sweet lesson that cuts to what the day is truly about. Who we spend Thanksgiving with is far more important than the quality of the food we eat. And to top the story off on another generous, giving note, Charlie Brown’s grandmother invites all of his friends to come over too.
2. It Doubles as an American History Lesson
We know almost everything in American history is more complicated and more problematic than it seems, and Thanksgiving is no different. The history lesson Linus delivers might not be the whole story, but it introduces kids (and maybe some adults) to figures like Wampanoag chief Massasoit, Governor William Bradford, and Captain Miles Standish, and the spirit that brought them together. That’s an important first step to learning a lot more about the holiday and our past.
3. Universal Appeal
Linus’ Christmas pageant speech from the Bible may be a beautiful moment to many, but it might not have the same power for non-Christians. But no matter your creed or country, the idea of sharing your table and your food with loved ones is universal. Thanksgiving might be an American holiday, but the messages of gratitude and camaraderie know no borders.
4. It’s Better than the Halloween Special
The Great Pumpkin may be infinitely memorable, but the Thanksgiving special has a better story and themes more meaningful for the holiday it is celebrating. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a fun little story with a hook, whereas A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a tribute to one of America’s best holidays. At the very least it deserves the same reverence as the Halloween special!
5. It’s Really Funny
Peanuts is at its best when it’s touching and funny, and this special has plenty of both. Snoopy, Peppermint Patty, and Sally are their typical funny selves. The episode also features some great lines about the absurdity of our holiday season calendar.
Oh yeah, and it also opens with this all-time gag.
You should never trust Lucy. But trust us: the Peanuts Thanksgiving special should not be overlooked.
Originally published on November 21, 2018.