I was driving to work the other day thinking of all the things I had to do and also thinking of things I wasn’t supposed to do when all of a sudden I looked up and saw a giant billboard advertising the new “Peanuts” movie. I found myself smiling forgetting all the reality the past 65 years had taught me

 

            Thanks, Charlie Brown, for helping me survive my younger years. In fact, thanks for helping get through my life. You showed me that being overweight and a bit uncoordinated was OK as long as you tried to be a good person. Even though confidence was a foreign concept to me I still tried because you always tried. Even when you failed to win a baseball game or kick that football it was all right because everyone around you respected and loved you because you tried.

 

            Thanks for showing me it took all kinds of people to make up our world. I now know my life will be fuller if I took a little bit of the personalities that surround me every day. Schroeder's love for music enlightened my life because I now understand that art and music are what makes us truly human. Linus's love for words and philosophy made me want to understand the thoughts and ideas of those who lived before me. Snoopy showed me that being a bit crazy was really ok. That lovable dog showed me dreaming was a part of the human spirit and an imagination put one in The Magic Kingdom whenever one wanted to go. 

 

            Charlie Brown's little red haired girl made me understand it was ok to want something even though the fulfillment of the quest was simply impossible. He never gave up. He just continued to dream. Lucy showed me to respect everyone even though they were abrasive and seemingly uncaring. But, Charlie demonstrated that even the most miserable of people had a heart and a soul. For every time Lucy pulled that football away from Charlie Brown she always waited to see if he was OK. Peppermint Patty showed us that being female did not have to include dresses and lace. She demonstrated that a person's outside appearance had nothing to do with what was felt inside. Even her friend, Marci, demonstrated it was ok to be quiet and not in the limelight. She taught us that everyone should be loved for who they are and not for what they are supposed to do.

 

            Snoopy's Red Baron demonstrated that competition was all around us. He showed us that there were many people and concepts in our lives that were the opposing force of what we were trying to do. The Red Baron never wanted to hurt Snoopy.  He just wanted to be the best in the sky.   

 

Even non-living objects, like the kite-eating tree, represented how competitive the world was. And again, Charlie Brown never gave up. He kept on trying to fly that kite realizing to give up was to stop trying. The empty mailbox represented the hopes and dreams we wait for all of our lives. Sometimes they never get delivered but Charlie Brown showed we had to wait for there was always hope it would arrive.  Linus's pumpkin patch represented how ideals are concepts that should never be abandoned even though they seem inaccessible and foolish. That always gloomy pumpkin patch represents concepts like freedom, family values, and happiness. And, of course, Charlie Brown's little broken Christmas tree showed us all that even though the present looks dark, one can make the darkest of present realities remarkably beautiful if we just try.

 

            Thanks Charlie Brown for all your characters like pigpen who showed me that being clean all the time was like throwing a gate to the wind. Thanks for the tiny yellow birds that flew around Snoopy demonstrating loyalty and why it is one of the most important human traits. Thanks for bringing in the new kids of the strip to show that everything had a future and that future would always be bright.

 

            Thanks Charlie Brown for helping me mature into the kind of person I wanted to be.  Thanks for giving me the will to never give up and the understanding that there were all types of people in our world. Thanks Charles Schultz for putting the characters of your imagination into all of our minds.

 

Jim Fabiano, a teacher and writer who lives in York,n Maine

He is a past recipient of the Maine Press Association’s award for Best Weekly Column. You can E-mail Jim at: james.fabiano60@gmail.com

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