I Want a Valium for Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

My job can be quite stressful. It can therefore keep me away from blogging for lengthy periods of time, especially when there are deadlines right before a long holiday weekend. Like this week!

When at last this long-but-short week came to an end, the relief was palpable. I could finally, completely, head-to-toe relax, even if all that meant was taking a breather between work and beginning to prepare for Thanksgiving and what I’d be contributing to our family meal this year.

I pride myself on my pumpkin pies. Sure, they’re like, the easiest pie to make out of All The Pies, but it’s one of the few–literally a few–things I actually take pleasure in making, and I have my little tricks to make them especially delicious. Furthermore, once I know how to perfect something to my own unique standards, it’s kind of compulsive for me to have to make it. Even if I weren’t going to bring it to a family meal, I wouldn’t be able to not make it. It’s my little Billy Bob Thornton thing.

What I love about this particular time of year is that the holiday season gets into full swing. Stores are an explosion of green and red, and homes and storefronts alike are decked out in lights, garlands, and wreaths. The dude and I have established a couple of our own holiday traditions, including getting a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and getting out all of the Christmas tchotchkes. (“Christmas tchotchkes” just might be an oxymoron, but I’m going with it, anyway.) There really is something special about this time of year that I cherish dearly.

To go with that special holiday feeling is the underlying stress of getting everything done in time for family gatherings, and holiday parties, and gift exchanges, and shipping presents off in time to be opened on Christmas Day, and blowing your wad on stuff you don’t need staying on budget. But we also have a particular salve for that stress: the holiday specials. Do a cursory search for “Christmas” on Netflix or your cable guide and there are no fewer than several hundred airings of all different specials and movies for an entire month. Heck, we’ve already seen Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and it’s not even December yet!

As you may know, we are huge Charlie Brown/Peanuts fans. These holiday specials in particular hold a special place in our hearts, along with millions of others’, I’m sure.

HOWEVER: although I am well aware that it is impossible to freeze children’s voices so they can produce dozens of holiday specials just for the sake of continuity, there are only a few of the Charlie Brown holiday specials I can tolerate aside from the original and sacred A Charlie Brown Christmas. The producers of that special did way too good of a job with casting and have subsequently ruined me for most of the other specials. There is one in particular I can not stomach, and it is A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

First things first: the only voices that sound genuine to the characters, in this blogger’s opinion, are Marcie’s and Peppermint Patty’s. Patty’s tomboy gruffness is dead on and Marcie’s sweet squeaks are endearing. All of the other main characters sound totally off, rendering them all L’Etranger. My suspension of disbelief just ain’t happening.

Secondly, Charlie’s extremely low self-esteem notwithstanding (and it really is quite heartbreaking, between his depression about holidays in general, being tricked by Lucy once again on kicking the football, and being steamrolled by Patty et al. as they invite themselves over for dinner), my squeamishness is a direct result of Peppermint Patty’s overbearing personality. Charlie is trying to rev himself up for a holiday at his grandmother’s, when suddenly Patty and the Gang inform him that they’re about to ascend his threshold for a full-on Thanksgiving meal, thank you very much.

We see Snoopy and Woodstock in the kitchen and Snoopy is making buttered toast and popcorn like a pro. One burned dog ear later, he’s got dinner on the (ping pong) table.

Sweet Snoopy happily serves up his homemade toast, pretzels, jelly beans, and popcorn. There are even pink parfaits on the table. A little carb-heavy, sure. But it’s the holiday season, after all. Their ten-year-old metabolisms can probably handle it.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

©1973 United Feature Syndicate Inc.

But instead of feeling happy and grateful to be with friends (heck, let’s call a spade a spade–they’re acquaintances at best), Patty goes on a belittling rampage about the food, shredding any pride Charlie may have had in providing her with a meal. Linus’s gracious speech fell on deaf ears, apparently. Thankfully Patty had brought her subordinate BFF Marcie with her, who becomes the voice of reason, talks Patty down from her rage high, and gets her to apologize. That’s a solid friend right there.

The whole scene gives me disgusted knots in my stomach, quite frankly, to the point where between it and the not-so-great voice casting, I have a high aversion to the special, so much so that it wouldn’t bother me if that particular DVD of the Peanuts Holiday Collection somehow got lost.

In short, this storyline makes me want to reach for a glass of wine or a Valium. It does not embody thankfulness or the spirit of Thanksgiving. To me, the kids’ meal that Snoopy and Charlie and Linus prepared IS what the holiday is all about: gathering with your friends/loved ones and enjoying what you have before you.

Other than watching Snoopy’s antics with Woodstock, I think the best part of the special is when all the kids are singing Over the River and Through the Woods in their off-key and inharmonious way. Also because it’s at the end of this not-so-well-done program. I’m sorry, Chuck. I love ya, but they can’t all be winners.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope your feast is belittling-free and full of delicious eats, even and especially if they’re toast and popcorn.

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Tide-Me-Overs

Today, I had a small epiphany while I was eating a little snack.

And when I had it, I looked something like this:

Same euphoria as, "ME? You want ME to be the director of your Christmas play?"

So there I was, minding my own business and eating a Peanut Butter Twix, when it hit me.

“Why, this tastes EERILY similar to one of the all-time greatest snack cookies that ever existed – Tagalongs!” I thought to myself. If you don’t know what a Tagalong is, I fear for you, unless you hate chocolate and peanut butter, one of the greatest combinations of foods ever to grace our planet. (If you are allergic to peanuts, I am very sorry for your loss.)

Tagalongs are the chocolate enrobed peanut butter patties that the Girl Scouts sell every year, when they finally deign to emerge from the cookie factories with untold number of boxes, ready to be sold in offices of the parents of Girl Scouts nationwide.

A Tagalong looks like this:

I don’t really have a photo of what it tastes like but the one of Charlie Brown above is a pretty accurate representation. They’re just….little miracle cookies, is the best way to put it. Of course, I am decidedly NOT shunning Thin Mints or Samoas, because those also hold a special place in my heart. But I am one of the rare few who outright states that this is my favorite Girl Scout cookie.

According to this blog post, Girl Scouts changed up some of the names of the cookies a few years back. Since I don’t always get a chance to order Girl Scout cookies each year, I had no idea. This woman was pretty incensed about it, however. Apparently Samoas are called Caramel deLites? Pretty lame. And I don’t know who decided to downgrade Tagalongs to “Peanut Butter Cookies,” but are you kidding me?

Here’s my favorite excerpt:

The new names are depressingly literal. I loved that the old names were either bad puns (“Samoas,” like “some mores,” get it?) or filled with obscure Girl Scout references.

“Trefoils” are the insignia scouts wear; “tagalong” is a game they used to play.”All Abouts,” were stamped with Girl Scout values–like “confidence” and “character.”

They’re now called “Thanks-A-Lots,” which sounds sarcastic (“thanks a lot), although the cookies are earnestly printed with the word “thank you” in five languages. (The ad copy on my daughter’s form describes them as “heart-warming shortbread cookies dipped in rich fudge”).

I will forever be delighted to overlay the “Thanks-A-Lots” with a sarcastic tone from this day forward.

If you’re like me, and you are frustrated that Girl Scout cookies can not be available at least one extra time of year (could they not make a killing right before the holidays?), take heart! Peanut Butter Twix tastes pretty much exactly like a Tagalong, with the exception of a chocolate cookie inside instead of a vanilla one. The cookie flavor itself doesn’t make as much of a difference, but perhaps the Twix people have some kind of inside knowledge of the kind of peanut butter filling the Girl Scouts use in the Tagalongs, because the consistency is almost identical.

Basically, Peanut Butter Twix are Tagalongs in disguise (and ‘stick’ form). And! They’ve been around for almost thirty years. Pretty clever, if you ask me. I don’t regularly buy candy bars and the like but I was craving something of this ilk today when I was in the drugstore, and when I passed by the display, I pulled another Charlie Brown:

"THAT'S IT!!!"

My advice? If you haven’t ever experienced a Tagalong and don’t want to wait until February, or whenever the damn cookies are sold, get thee to your nearest drugstore and purchase a Peanut Butter Twix, otherwise known as Tide-Me-Overs. Break your Tagalong virginity. Zoe Recommends!

Oh Yes She Did.

In keeping with the tradition of decorating/preparing for Christmas as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes were whisked into the dishwasher, I surprised my boyfriend with an early Christmas present.

Those of you who follow my posts regularly will know that I seem to have inadvertently made it my mission to mention Charlie Brown Christmas/Peanuts throughout this holiday season.

Since pictures can speak for themselves, I bid you a lovely rest of your weekend and will let you see for yourself what I surprised the guy in my life with.

(He loved it.)

(I’m a great gift giver. One of my skillz.)

(Click on each photo for the enlarged version.)


The USPS Gets Nostalgic

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Be ye from the States or from across the globe, there is a good chance you are familiar with Charles M. Schulz and his adorable Peanuts characters.

Like my post about the Ctrl z cards, I am going to keep this as brief as possible, since I merely want to announce the arrival of adorable Charlie Brown envelopes and boxes at the United States Post Office.

Did you hear that? Charlie Brown/Peanuts envelopes. At your local post office. Get yours before they sell the hell out!

Anyhow, because my boyfriend and I are such enormous fans, I picked up an empty envelope the other day when I was mailing something else, just to take it home with me. I am sure the woman behind the counter thought I was a curious person.

Yet, whoever is the recipient of this small mailing envelope (and they come in a large size and also hard boxes that you put together in the post office!) is a special person indeed, since I wouldn’t grace just anybody’s household with it.

Clearly the USPS likes promoting adorable, witty characters, and so they have graced us with Peanuts mailing supplies this holiday season. I can’t say I blame ’em.

For you to marvel at, and then go buy some of your very own:

Does it get better than this?

180 degrees of animation!

 

Update: As of December 20, these were sold out at my local post office!