Peanuts. The movie. Digital animation from the same studio that made Ice Age, Rio, and Epic. This brings me so much joy.
Hearing Vince Guaraldi's jazzy Peanuts Theme warms my heart. It reminds me of all that is good. It evokes feelings of optimism and innocence. It brings me back to that youthful belief that anything is possible, that maybe this time Lucy won't pull away the football when I go to kick it.
I loved the Peanuts gang when I was little. It was the first comic strip at the top of the Sunday paper's comics section. While my dad read through local news and my big brother dove into the sports section, I would sneak off with the funny pages. Of course, when I was too young to read, Aaron was a good brother and read them to me, but that's irrelevant. Every Sunday morning, the first thing I would consume was the newest mishaps of Charlie Brown and his circle of friends.
There were the cartoons. I've seen every single one of them. Multiple times. It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home were my favorites.
The pastor at my childhood church was also a fan of Peanuts. He would regularly slip references and stories from the comic into his sermon illustrations.
Then there was my first nickname. When I was really young, my parents referred to me as Woodstock because the blond hair on top of my head stood strait up like that lovable yellow bird.
The Peanuts characters are woven into the fabric of my identity. Rewatching the cartoons as an adult stirs up so many wonderful memories. I feel at peace and remember the simplicity of being a kid.
Eventually, I outgrew the Woodstock nickname. As I got older, I began to identify more with Charlie Brown. Clumsy. Horrible at sports. Over-eager to fit in. Awkward around girls. He failed almost everything he did. On the surface it looks like he had a lot of friends, but I get the impression that those friends tolerated him more than they accepted him.
When I watched the movies and TV specials - when I read the comic strips, I couldn't help but recognize myself in Charlie Brown. Still do today. I see his foolishness, his insecurity, his sadness, his hopes, his efforts, his failures. I see all of that and think, "Yes, that's me."
Charlie Brown wasn't equipped to navigate the relationships in his life. He was ill prepared to handle the teasing. He really did not belong with that group of kids. However, Charles Schultz did something brilliant with this character. Charlie Brown was never portrayed as a victim. Even when he was being tormented by Lucy, Charlie Brown took ownership of his actions. Even when he failed miserably, he kept going. Charlie Brown never let his mistakes or mistreatment hinder his ability to get up and try again.
Those are lessons I'm still learning.