Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Two Sides Of A Peppermint Patti

I love the Charlie Brown thanksgiving cartoon. Even though the animation was poor and the scenery and character drawings cannot hold a candle to the computer animated graphics that kids watch today, it is a classic show, with a timeless meaning.

There are lots of morals and values that we could pull out of this cartoon, but I am only going to focus on two, both of which are brought to our attention by Peppermint Patti, Charlie Browns tom-boyish friend.

Peppermint Patti exhibits two character traits, but only one of which we want to copy. She portrays a great lesson, of what TO DO, and what NOT TO DO, at Thanksgiving.

1.DO: Pray and give thanks
2.DONT: Be thankful with our mouth and our words, and not our actions

A character trait that we DO want to copy Peppermint Patti on, is her iniative to pray and give thanks for their blessings, because as she says, "its thanksgiving, you know." But what she means is, "isnt thankfulness an obligation on Thanksgiving?"

Prayer is something we all mean to do every day, but often forget, neglect to find time, or just simply do not feel like it.

In fact, even at thanksgiving - the primary season of the year for giving thanks to God in and through prayer - we can easily dive into the holiday, and delve into the yummy food, and forget to actually give thanks.

Here is a great little clip from the Charlie Brown cartoon that reminds us about the importance of initiating prayer, and some of the things that we can universally be thankful for:

Just like Peppermint Patti reminds us, lets remember to pray this Thanksgiving - not only to give grace before the meal, and not only with our words and actions, but with our hearts.

Also, lets share prayer with those around us - even if the ones around us are unbelievers, or do not care to join you in prayer.

Thanksgiving is really a time to be thankful to God for all that we have, even if others do not know Who to thank. And who knows, those spoken prayers might just speak volumes to those around us, and I believe that God uses our prayers to plant seeds of thankfulness in the hearts of the others.

The second character trait of Peppermint Patti that we DO NOT want to copy, is thanking God with our mouths, but then not posessing that thankfulness as a genuine and heartfelt emotion. Take a look at this next clip from the Charlie Brown cartoon, that happens after Linus's prayer of thankfulness takes place:

Based on Patti's actions, it appears that although her mind thought that praying was the "right" thing to do, her heart did not embrace true thankfulness. She did not really understand the real meaning of being thankful.

When things progressed in such a way that Patti's expectations were not met, she got upset. She got irritated. She began to verbally express her dissatisfaction. She was annoyed at the guest (Snoopy) at her table. She was agitated that the food did not meet her traditional requirements. Her thankfulness dissipated quickly as she focused on her surroundings and her perceived shortcomings in their celebration.

It seems that in most homes across the world, thanksgiving does not always go as planned. The truth is that rarely do real families look like what you see on a Swansons Chicken Broth commercial at Thanksgiving.

Not to say that it doesnt happen in some homes, but lets be honest - rarely do families sit down at the Thanksgiving dinner table.....with perfect white tablecloths and matching lacy napkins.....with turkeys that are perfectly cooked and sweet potato casseroles that look like Martha Stewart made them.

Rarely do families get through Thanksgiving dinner.....with children who exhibit pristine manners.... with babies who do not cry and hold off on bowel movements until after dinner... with siblings who dont argue... with spouses who dont disagree.... with extended family who agree on which ballgame to watch or when to cut the pumpkin pie... with perfection in every way.

Thanksgiving is not only filled with recipes for good food, but also can be a recipe in itself for disappointment or frustration - which is a sure recipe thanklessness.

When emotions are high and expectations are unmet, we can immediately morph into a Peppermint Patti if we are not careful - and it might not be a pretty sight.

Tomorrow morning, as we rise and greet the Thanksgiving holiday, lets commit to begin with prayer. Secondly, lets commit to carry that mindset of prayer thoughout the day and into the dining room, while making sure that our thanks is with our hearts, and not just with our mouths.

I could not have said it better than Peppermint Patti, when at the end of the cartoon, she says, "There is enough problems in the world already, Chuck, without these stupid misunderstandings."

Thankfulness is too important to let a holiday get in the way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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