By Sally Holland
“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people– religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin,” so sayeth Charles Schultz’s character Linus in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I thought Linus had peaked when he taught us about how to cut through all the commercialization of Christmas to remember the story of Jesus’ birth and how to love that little pathetic tree. Apparently, he also foresaw the frustrations of the American population have with our politics and religion. He offered valid advice for us to consider – especially during a holiday season when our country is politically polarized. H/T Linus.
When my sisters and I watched the Charlie Brown Halloween special as a children, my Dad told us every year that the TV people changed the ending and this would be the year that the Great Pumpkin actually showed up. After the first year, when the Great Pumpkin didn’t show, you’d think we would learn. For my Dad this was just the beginning of the holiday season. He followed it up with telling us that the TV people changed the ending to the Grinch and he didn’t actually give Christmas back. Yes, we had cruel childhood.
Even though my sisters and I were smart enough to know that the endings of TV shows didn’t change like that i.e. the Wicked Witch was always going to get killed in the end, and Gilligan wasn’t going to get off the island, we couldn’t chance that Dad might be right.
We’d watch Lucy pull the football out of the way right before Charlie Brown tried to kick it. He always ended up on his back. We’d watch as Charlie Brown got rocks instead of candy. We’d watch Linus choose his pumpkin patch based on the characteristic of “sincerity” because everyone knows that the Great Pumpkin always appears in pumpkin patches with sincerity.
As Linus says, “I don’t see how a pumpkin patch could be more sincere than this one. You can look all around, and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy.”
Sincerity strikes me as an odd attribute to look for in a pumpkin patch. My dictionary says “sincerity” means “honesty, truthfulness, straightforwardness, openness.” Pumpkins are vegetables, or fruits, depending on your belief system. Neither fruits nor vegetables can be honest and open. They don’t have personalities. This is a fact. Just like nobody changes the ending to holiday specials n TV, a pumpkin patch can’t ever be honest. Sincerity in this scenario is a fake expectation. It is impossible.
I’m not saying it’s not a lovely idea. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there really was truthfulness in a pumpkin patch? We could plant gardens of pumpkins on every corner and whenever someone stretched the truth, they would be called into the pumpkin patch and sincerity would ensue. Internet trolls could be punished for lying by being forced into pumpkin patches. We could fill the Washington swamp with pumpkins and straightforwardness would be politically unavoidable. Halloween could become a symbol of honesty and integrity in addition to costumes and candy. I’d like that.
Like Linus, I’m going to spend my Halloween in pumpkin patch this year, and next, and, if needed, the next. If the Great Pumpkin appears, I’ll know that sincerity has returned and there will be a new ending just like Dad predicted.