This October marks the 50th anniversary of “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” an iconic Halloween television special that has been a staple of the season in American homes since its first broadcast. Lighthearted news reports are starting to surface, detailing various celebrations of the occasion — including a series of Peanuts-themed corn mazes across the country.
As with most classics, the staying power of “The Great Pumpkin” has much to do with the accessibility and timeless quality of its story. However, “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz also managed to pack a lot of wisdom and universally teachable moments into his Halloween special. Try re-watching “The Great Pumpkin” as a family (or watching for the first time!), then discuss it over dinner:
- The story of “The Great Pumpkin” centers on Linus, who firmly believes in The Great Pumpkin even though everyone else makes fun of him for it. Have you ever stuck to a belief or an opinion, even when others have tried to talk you out of it?
- Lucy tells Charlie Brown that his invitation to the Halloween party must have been a mistake, because “there were two lists: One to invite, and one not to invite.” What do you think about Lucy’s behavior? If you were hosting a Halloween party, who would be on the guest list? Do you think it’s ever okay to leave someone off the list, and if so, how would you handle it?
- Sally gives up trick-or-treating to stay in the pumpkin patch with Linus. Have you ever changed your plans to make someone else happy? Were you happy with your decision, or not? Why?
- Snoopy spends much of “The Great Pumpkin” imagining that he’s the World War I Flying Ace. If you could imagine yourself as any historical hero, who would you choose and why?
- Linus says, “There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: Religion, politics, and The Great Pumpkin.” Why do you think he feels this way? Do you think there are certain topics that shouldn’t be discussed? Does it depend on who you’re talking to or where you are?