The Very First Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is nigh again! Time for gratitude toward those wonderful people who endure us, another round of overeating, more complaints about What the First Thanksgiving Was Really Like in Case You Haven’t Heard That One Before, and both budgets and self-control thrown out the window for the sake of the longest Friday of the year.

And of course we turn to those time-honored traditions that families bonded over for generations, including but not limited to 1973’s animated TV special A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, which you’ve seen ten or twelve times and don’t need me to recap that one time a bunch of youngsters thought it would be a brilliant idea to share a banquet cooked by a dog. To be fair, the round-headed kid probably couldn’t have done any better, but he’s also the one who let the dog go for it, either because his perceptions of reality are warped, or because he’s too lazy to care about food safety or quality.

That wasn’t Charlie Brown’s first public Thanksgiving, though. The Peanuts comic strip had been around since 1950 and racked up quite a few holidays before animators brought him a second life. Submitted above for your trivia collection is the Peanuts strip dated November 27m 1952, which marked the first time creator Charles Schulz had Our Heroes commemorating the holiday on-panel. Through the magic of the MCC WABAC Machine, we at long last learn why Charlie Brown was never put in charge of Thanksgiving. Not until after his family finished their sumptuous gluttony did he bother to venture outside, feed his faithful sidekick, and toss him a rote greeting dressed up in the archaic calligraphy that was all the rage in the 1950s. “Here you go, boy!” says Snoopy’s master as he tosses man’s cold, unwanted scraps onto the dirty ground. “Have some bits of fat and gristle that we were too stuffed and finicky to finish off ourselves! Sorry in advance if Mom undercooked it and left some dormant bacteria intact! And try not to choke on the bones, because you really don’t want to know what 1950s veterinarian hospitals are like!”

Snoopy, of course, is in no position to be picky yet and takes whatever he can get. His affluent master pats himself on the back and receives silent reinforcement from Patty, the Spare Girl Peanut That Time Forgot. All is well in their colorless neighborhood, in their nameless city with its imaginary adults. Not till many years later would Snoopy turn the tables when his personality turned peculiar, he realized he had the confidence to reject his master’s nominal appeasement attempts, and he would develop the tools to take culinary matters into his own hands. Twenty-one years later, that brave beagle would rebel against his limitations by making toast and popcorn for lunch, like any given lonely human bachelor might.

Good dog, Snoopy. Good dog. In your own way. I guess.

…on a barely related note, we here at Midlife Crisis Crossover wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, a wondrous weekend, and a mature, thoughtful Black Friday free of shoddy obsolete merchandise and Walmart fight clubs. May your family gatherings be warm and connective on all the right levels, and may your meals be streets ahead of Charlie Brown’s unfinished plate.

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