Good grief! ‘Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ falls from favor

Childhood often brings about feelings of nostalgia. Characters such as Barney, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Mickey Mouse all exemplify a simpler, happier time in people’s lives. But one character that is universally classic and loved is Charlie Brown, more specifically, the Peanuts holiday specials that come on every year, such as “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” However, audiences tend to overlook the special that airs in between those two, which is “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”. In this special, Charlie Brown must decide whether to spend Thanksgiving with his family like he planned, or host his friends for an impromptu dinner after a misunderstanding with Peppermint Patty escalates.

Though a charming and fun story, many people overlook “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” giving it less attention than the Halloween or Christmas special. All three of the specials have the same characters, film length, writing style, and illustrations, so it does not seem like their popularity should be that much different. But there is more to the story than that. 

One reason is that it is the youngest of the three specials, therefore does not feel quite so classic. While its Christmas and Halloween counterparts both premiered in the mid 1960s, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” only began airing in 1973, which was less than fifty years ago. Also, the other two aired within one year of each other, making it feel more like a cohesive set, whereas the delayed release of the Thanksgiving special had audiences considering it as more of an afterthought rather than a completion to the trilogy.

Another reason comes from the fact that it simply does not air as often. Before the Peanuts specials were taken off of public broadcasting and put on Apple TV, all of them aired on CBS, and later ABC. While the Halloween and Christmas specials often aired several times in the weeks leading up to their respective holidays, the Thanksgiving special only aired once or twice during the week of Thanksgiving, when many people are busy with family and last minute preparations.

Regardless of their popularity or lack of it, the specials all serve the same purpose: bring some more joy and nostalgia to the most wonderful times of the year.