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HIGHER CULTURE: A Surprising Lesson on Grace in 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving'

The "kick-off" of the Christmas season, "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving." Screengrab credit: PeanutsOnline/YouTube

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Essential Viewing

When it comes to holiday specials and the “Peanuts” gang, many people probably say the Christmas program is their favorite, since the theme is so important and universal–the true meaning of Christmas.

Though, maybe it’s possible some people are also fond of the “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” program (which, in 2020, moved to exclusive broadcast — streaming — on Apple’s platform, as I wrote). And as I mentioned then, all of the “Peanuts” shows now only live on the AppleTV+ streamer. More on that later.

This brings us to “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” which happens to be my favorite “Peanuts” cartoon ever. There are so many funny moments in it, including Charlie Brown’s screwball comedy-esque phone call with Peppermint Patty. Then there’s Snoopy and his birdie sidekick Woodstock trying – and failing – to set up the dining table. One particular scene, in which Snoopy is attacked by a chair, gets me rolling on the floor every single time! I won’t give any more examples, since you and your family probably have your own choice scenes to savor.

This time, though, I want to highlight the opening scene, showing Charlie and his friend, Lucy, and the famous football. This might be the most identifiable image associated with creator Charles M. Schulz‘s comic strip. If you’re not familiar with the scene, a brief clip is below:

Now, I realize this scene is often used as a metaphor for naivete. Someone continuing to give their trust away, in a situation in which you’ve been fooled before. But I’m going to ask you to see it in another way, as Christians. It stems from the fact that the character holding the ball isn’t just another friend of “Chuck”s — she’s like a sister. (And since I have a sister, this speaks to me, obviously.) How many times have we done a favor for a family member, only to later feel regret that we gave in to their request?

We’ve all been there. More times than any of us can count. Out of love or a sense of obligation, we say “yes” when we (often) know the answer should be “no.”

Many of you have the Bible passage in mind already, which is the remedy to our emotions over this (Matthew 18:21-22):

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

But there’s a second, sticky issue when, later on, we chastise ourselves for acting the way we did – albeit in a way that is all too human.

But the Scriptures tell us that God’s grace also covers this issue fully, as 1 John 1:9 reminds us:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

There’s only one person who never made a mistake in the name of love; in just a few months, He’s going to lay down His life for our sins, once again. There’s no greater grace than that.

Back to “Peanuts,” to sum things up. Since the Thanksgiving program isn’t on over-the-air (or even cable) TV any more, to paraphrase my suggestion from the “Great Pumpkin” show a couple years back: Pull up your favorite search engine not beginning with “G” and ending in “oogle,” and treat your family to a hilarious, holiday classic all together–while you work off the dinner you just ate with hearty laughter.

 

Essential Viewing verdict: This one is pretty cinch. If you want a family-friendly, classic show to enjoy at Thanksgiving time, there’s no competition. Happy Thanksgiving, RedState readers!

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