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Snoopy Thanksgiving

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Sometimes a beloved tradition has roots in sheer necessity. For small children, Thanksgiving Day can be very long.

Adults are flurried with the feast. It’s difficult for kids to find their niche amongst long-lost relatives and the unceremonious sucking noise cranberry makes as it slides out of the can.

We found a way to capture the kids’ imaginations, allow them into the kitchen, and teach thankfulness. This year will be our ninth year observing this home-grown tradition.

On Thanksgiving day, at about 11 am, our family celebrates Snoopy Thanksgiving. I knew it was officially a tradition when our daughter announced at dinner when she has kids, they will celebrate Snoopy Thanksgiving too.

The origins of Snoopy Thanksgiving are simple and born out of necessity. The inspiration is the classic Thanksgiving special “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” Peppermint Patty, Marcy, and Franklin invite themselves to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving. Only a truly panicked person would enlist his dog to cook a feast. Nobody has ever accused Charlie Brown of being the epitome of cool capability, so it is no surprise that Snoopy willingly steps in and helps. Snoopy is like that.

While turkey and pumpkin pie cook back at the dog house, a chef’s-hat-wearing Snoopy toasts toast, pops popcorn, pretzes the pretzels, and finds Mrs. Brown’s secret stash of jelly beans. He puts together a meal for the kids, sets up the ping pong table in the yard, battles a vicious lawn chair, decorates the table using gravity and a good arm, and digs in after Linus gives a speech seemingly written by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. Yum.

Peppermint Patty, forgetting her manners and her sensible shoes (Birkenstocks in November, no socks?), decides to verbally thrash Snoopy’s Thanksgiving. Mindful Marcy sets her straight, of course, and everyone piles into the Brown family station wagon for a trip to the matriarch’s condo for a real meal. They sing.

Snoopy and Woodstock, dressed as crisp, prim pilgrims, eat a feast the moment the car is out of sight. Snoopy’s a scamp, a hold-out (and a heck of a pilot/novelist/lawyer/hockey player/dog), but that isn’t the point. He teaches a lesson to the kids: it doesn’t matter what you eat on Thanksgiving, as long as your heart is grateful for what is on your plate.

Our tradition is to serve pretzels, popcorn, jelly beans, and buttered toast a la Chef Snoopy to the kids mid-morning on Thanksgiving Day. While eating, they watch the Peanuts DVD. It’s a great way to tide their tummies over to the real feast, usually served around 2pm. They also love to help prepare Snoopy Thanksgiving. It’s hard for preschoolers to help baste a turkey, but they can butter toast and put jellybeans in a bowl. It is very kid-controlled and they take great pride in their preparations. They are involved in the day, while learning the importance of family and cultural tradition.

Pilgrims weren’t as prim as we imagine. I think they would smile and approve of a three-year-old giving thanks for green jelly beans and for the miracle that is popcorn.

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  • comment avatar Mama Bird November 3, 2009

    So cute! Your kids are going to have such wonderful memories and traditions to carry on. Thank you for reminding us that these are the things that a childhood is built upon.

  • comment avatar Charlene November 3, 2009

    What a wonderful idea.

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  • comment avatar Amber's Crazy Bloggin' Canuck November 3, 2009

    I’m admittedly not a huge fan of Thanksgiving i.e. football, day slaving in the kitchen. HOWEVER, I LOVE this idea. And my kids will, too.

  • comment avatar Lori in Denver November 3, 2009

    Gretchen, I love the family life in the LifeNut household. Thank you for this.

  • comment avatar JoAnn November 3, 2009

    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and this is such a great idea, Gretchen! Growing up in a family of four kids, my mom always put the four us to work making the munchies: the chex-mix mixture (back in the olden days when it didn’t come already combined), etc. This would have been a lot of fun for us, too!

  • comment avatar Suzanne (Crunchy green Mom) November 3, 2009

    Gretchen.. How fun!!!! I love it!

    Can we steal it? I just started the “Great Pumpkin” candy trade out for a toy… perhaps I can implement Thanksgiving into Peanuts as well.

    I’m a Peanuts freak 🙂

  • comment avatar Kelly @ Love Well November 3, 2009

    This is so fun, Gretchen. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. (Am I un-American for saying that?) I love the tradition. But I’m not sure we can institute it, because Thanksgiving morning at our house means a high-fat breakfast of baked French toast while we watch the Macy’s parade.

  • comment avatar Sara Joy November 3, 2009

    I love this. Snoopy rocks at life, it’s good that kids get to know this early and well. 🙂

  • comment avatar Susan November 3, 2009

    This is a great idea Gretchen. Thanks for sharing, my family is definitely going to do this for Thanksgiving this year. My kids will love it.

  • comment avatar Heth November 3, 2009

    I want to visit your house on every holiday. It sounds so fun!

  • comment avatar Jenna Hallock November 3, 2009

    I am a huge Peanuts fan and this is an amazing idea! Let’s face it, the Peanuts are the perfect “fun for parents, fun for kids” old-fashioned family fun.

    One of my tricks has always been to have some sort of low maintenance craft and a Thanksgiving themed game or two for the kids. This is tons of fun and can be very cheap (ie. Pin the Tail on the Turkey from the dollar spot at Target).