The Great Pumpkin
Happy Halloween, everyone! (All zero of you who will be reading this today, that is.) It’s cavity season again; I’m sure the dentists are going to be absolutely thrilled.
Anyway, I just finished my annual watching of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and as my second philosophical topic I wanted to get everyone thinking about the episode’s big squashy namesake. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Peanuts franchise, the Great Pumpkin is basically Santa Claus in pumpkin form, endorsed with a fanatic’s touch by a boy named Linus. In the Peanuts continuum, everyone – even child viewers from the get-go! – is aware that the Pumpkin is merely a fantasy. We’re introduced to the Great Pumpkin through ridicule; every time Linus brings it up, he is swiftly and brutally mocked by everyone around him. Yet he continues to believe.
Peanuts is only a comic strip, but like all great comic strips it plays off of a common understanding of the human condition. We can all relate to Linus’s fixated belief in his Santa act-alike, because each of us needs something to believe in. Everybody has a Great Pumpkin, whether it’s a gross overestimation of his/her own importance, the Ptolemaic system, or old Saint Nick himself. Not that any of those things are necessarily false, mind.
But I’m not going to get into a big discussion about religion or lonely conviction here. 1 At this point, I’m not going to get into a big discussion about anything – I have a chess match to prepare for. Still, I thought I would join Linus in the pumpkin patch this evening and share one of my personal pills of blue: the simple idea that we’ll always have the capacity to make the ‘right’ choices, even if we sometimes don’t. This is something that I will hopefully continue to believe for a very long time.
Along with, you know, the idea that pumpkin pie is actually really good for you. Enjoy some fresh October food today, folks! – and may the Great Pumpkin himself show up in your garden this year.
1 After all, it’s one of Linus’s three forbidden topics. One violation is enough for today!