It’s a story of faith.
Linus believes in the doctrine of The Great Pumpkin, rising from the most sincere pumpkin patch in the world on midnight of Halloween and bringing gifts to its children. We don’t know where he got the doctrine. It seems ridiculous; a mish-mash of other childish myths and fables. But, in his innocence, he is sold out on it.
So it’s also a story of sincerity.
Though the other children in the Peanuts gallery make fun of him, they cannot doubt his own faith or sincerity. He is persecuted – even by Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally, who dotes on him gives up her tricks-or-treats and a party to sit with him in the pumpkin patch – but he doesn’t stop believing. Even when The Great Pumpkin just turns out to be an errant Easter Beagle named Snoopy, strayed from a World War I flying ace mission over the French countryside.
And it’s a story of redemption.
Crabby older sister Lucy awakens at four in the morning, puts on her hat and coat, and goes out in the cold to fetch in little brother Linus, still shivering and asleep in the pumpkin patch. She pulls off his socks and shoes and tucks him into bed. In my eyes, Lucy is redeemed as a person by her love for her little brother.
Most of the children’s fare that’s cranked out for holiday broadcast these days is pretty much devoid of themes like these, even if you squint through a microscope at them.
That’s why “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” is a classic, still played on network broadcast television two generations later, and that’s why I still like to watch it.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”