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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Thanksgiving Tribute to Charles Schultz

charles schulzEvery year before Thanksgiving break I give a mini lesson to my creative writing class on the Peanuts cartoon creator, Charles Schultz. I begin with something like, "Long before there were blogs, Twitter, Instagram, or the internet for that matter, there was a form of communication made entirely of paper."

I pause for dramatic effect and with all the enthusiasm I can muster up I say. "It was called a newspaper!"

At this point, eyes roll and I get the usual "Mrs. Dollar we know what a newspaper is!" Next, I stream a vintage Peanuts cartoon strip onto a screen in front of the class.

"But wait!" I say excitedly. "What you may not know is that Sunday was my favorite day because cartoons were....are you ready...they were printed in color!" 

I confess it gets harder every year to get a middle school audience excited about the Peanuts creator. If it weren't for holiday specials and parade inflatable floats, Charlie Brown, would most likely be forgotten as have many vintage cartoon characters like Lil' Abner or Blondie. But I press on because cartoonist like Charles Schultz have so much to teach us.

There is something raw and honest about his cartoons.

Charles Schultz admitted that Charlie Brown was his alter ego. I found a clip that shows the artist sketching Charlie. He says,"Charlie Brown is I think a little bit like everyone. We all need reassurance to know that someone likes us."

As my family prepares for our holiday meal, we have A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on the television. Once again, Charlie Brown feels like he's ruined everything. I think we all have felt this way at one time or another. I know I have.And once again we are reminded of the true reason we celebrate:

 Charlie Brown: I don't feel bad for myself, I just feel bad because I've ruined everyone's Thanksgiving.

Marcie Brown: But 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.

Charles Schultz once wrote a brief quiz that went something like this:

Name three Nobel prize winners.
Name the three wealthiest people in the world.
Name this year's Heisman trophy finalists.

Then he asked three more questions:

Name three teachers who affected your life.
Name three friends who stood by you.
Name three people you like to be around.

Charles Shultz believed that celebrities don't make the biggest impact on our lives. The people close to us do. The people we live and work with and those who care about us are the ones who matter most.

And to this I say, "You're a good man, Charles Schultz!"

To learn more about this incredible man check out HuffPost's 20 Things You Didn't Know About Charles Schultz

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