I got through another yearly tradition last night. Let me admit I love to watch Charles Schulz's It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Maybe it's because I grew up with it that I'm addicted. Maybe it's because it aired on October 27th, 1966 for the first time, just days before my own birthday on Halloween. I admit, I now miss the old Dolly Madison commercials that went with it. There are more commercials now and although none of them are for Zingers I still love to watch that show.
But I always thought the title was misleading. It implies that Charlie Brown is the lead in this holiday play, but to me it always seemed like the main protagonist was Linus.
Ah, yes...poor Linus. His name doesn't have particular meaning...he was just supposed to be one of the tragic sons of Apollo. The cartoon Linus doesn't fare much better, an idealistic dreamer shackled to a loud-mouthed bully of a sister. In my own way, I could relate.
Linus is put on the chopping block early. Set up for failure from the beginning as he pens a letter to the Great Pumpkin. He keeps his hopes high while children come from all around to tell him what a blockhead he is for his beliefs. The whole thing is kind of surreal. You have to ask yourself what kind of parents are just letting children walk in off the street to insult their son. You wonder why one of them doesn't appear and tell the little brats to vacate. Linus is just left to his own hope and pen. It seems that is all he has to defend himself.
Enter Sally. Charlie Brown's smaller but just-as-loud-mouthed-as-Lucy sister. A girl doomed to have a crush on our hero. Everyone else seems to hate him, but she decides to take her chances and be seen with him anyway. Could this be love? Yeah...I know you've seen this before, just bear with me.
The big night comes. All Hallows Eve and while other children are running about grabbing sugar in all it's glorious forms, Linus has opted to go another path. Here's where I can't start separating myself from the character. He wants to believe in the Great Pumpkin. I want to believe, too. Yes, the other stuff is good. Candy and parties. Bread and circuses. But we both need to believe that somehow there is something more. Something different. Something better.
Sally sees Linus in the patch and a part of her is drawn to him as well. She likes his spirit. She likes his conviction, even though she lacks it herself. She wants to trust him, and stays. They wait under the stars. While all the other children do what they always do, Linus and Sally wait. And...big surprise...by the time the others get back the Great Pumpkin hasn't appeared.
That's when Sally looses it. She reads Linus the shit list to let him know he's on it. She lets him know she feels disappointed, and she'll take it out on him by betraying him. She's going over to the other side and never coming back. Never again will she wait in the pumpkin patch with him. She might never trust him again. Still, Linus stays convinced. Even though he has one tiny lapse in his faith, he still believes...oh, who am I kidding...
Sure I want to believe in the Great Pumpkin. But I know he doesn't exist. He never will. He is only a concept, and a rather naïve one at that. But for some things, there is still a need to believe in them even though you know they can never exist.
So here I am in my on Pumpkin Patch Metaphor. The earth smells fresh and sweet, and it's just barely damp. The Stygian dusk closes in, and ragged clouds are passing over a gravid moon. All around me are the giant broad leaves and twisted vines of the harvest, and the festive orange orbs that the year has yielded. I have my scratchy wool blanket I'm sitting on and I pull my leather jacket's collar up for warmth. Looking up at that moon I know I don't believe, but I still need to, so I do. I believe anyway, even though I know I'm not supposed to.
Anyone else feel like sitting out there and sharing the hot cider in my thermos? Anyone else feel like believing in lost causes and just loving the beauty of one dark, chilly night?