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Good grief, I miss Charlie Brown Halloween dates with my mom

Nothing screams midwestern tradition more than watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" after trick-or-treating. But in college, the cartoon is only a vessel for nostalgia.
Nothing screams midwestern tradition more than watching "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" after trick-or-treating. But in college, the cartoon is only a vessel for nostalgia.

It’s 9.30 p.m. The howling wind and clear, Oct. 31 sky fall away behind the squeaky screen door.

The second I step inside, I toss my heavy bag to the floor and begin the process of disrobing. First, the cold shoes. Then, the paper headpiece. 

Finally, I painstakingly remove the whole paper doll costume my mom had spent hours meticulously cutting out and decorating.

I couldn’t just carelessly remove my favorite Halloween costume ever.

Free from my slightly-hard-to-walk-in but oh-so-darling outfit, I ran to the kitchen. Like a hunter-gatherer, I grabbed milk, mugs and Swiss Miss, plus bread and cheese for myself

The perfect dessert to share between an exhausted yet dedicated mother and a rambunctious 9 year old high on Halloween fun.

My ears perked at the “Great Pumpkin Waltz” ringing across the opening between my living room and kitchen, and I pleaded with the microwave to warm our hot chocolate drinks faster.

I couldn’t miss one second of the annual tradition.

Every year, my mom would take me trick-or-treating. We’d come home after a long night out, and we’d drink hot chocolate while going through my haul to make sure none of the candy was poisoned (because if the Dum-Dum wrapper is slightly unwrapped, it’s probably poisoned).

But my favorite part of this night was always watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

Animator Bill Melendez and composer Vince Guaraldi bring Charles Shulz’s comic strip to life in an iconic way that has stood the test of time.The cartoon has a runtime of 25 minutes, but has some of the most quotable and memorable scenes from any piece of media in the last 55 years. 

From Charlie Brown’s repeated line “I got a rock,” to Sally yelling at Linus in frustration after missing “tricks or treats” to wait for the Great Pumpkin, to Snoopy giving Lucy a smooch on the lips during bobbing for apples. 

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It’s the perfect encapsulation of childhood innocence mixed with adult humor; A timeless classic suitable for the whole family. 

The whole Peanuts gang has always been one of my favorites. My mom has a Snoopy plush hanging from the rearview mirror in her car. 

Every holiday, she dresses him up in a different handmade, felt costume: A red, white and blue tophat for the Fourth of July; A tuxedo and rose for Valentine’s Day; Bunny ears and a colored egg for Easter. 

My mom watches lots of black and white movies and hunting-for-Bigfoot shows. We don’t often find ourselves sitting down and watching things together. 

But Linus dragging his blanket across the ground and sending his letter to the Great Pumpkin always brought us together during the fall season. 

Now, I sit in my dull apartment, 20 years old and candyless, longing for the childhood innocence of watching Charlie Brown with my mom while she checked and doubled-checked to make sure I was safe from the candy poisoners lurking in my small town.

What I wouldn’t give to watch Charlie Brown trip over a football or Snoopy fight the Red Baron just one more time, snuggled up next to my mom, warming myself from the frigid October night. 

Good grief. 

penaml@miamioh.edu

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