• Brandi Bradley

Charlie Brown and starting new traditions


A table set with a bowl of popcorn and a selection of toast, pretzels, orange slice gummy candy, and jelly beans on paper plates.

As an adult, new traditions are difficult to start, especially when you live far away from home. That’s what I experienced anyway. When we moved far away from Tennessee and Kentucky – our respected homes – we found ourselves without a clue how to celebrate.


Yes, I was liberated from the obligation of a beloved aunt’s raisin pie and awkward small talk with the grown-ups, but it was also incredibly lonely. My family was far away, and I knew they were going to eat raisin pie and play Sorry! on the floor without me.


We had just moved to Atlanta. I had a toddler, a seven-year-old, and all the freedom to make Thanksgiving my own way, but not sure where to start. My husband has never held a lot of sentimentality with the holiday. He would have been fine eating pumpkin pie in a restaurant and then going home like it was any other day. Not me. I wanted us to celebrate Thanksgiving for real. I kept trying to incorporate my traditions but they weren't meshing with my husbands' traditions. But we kept going back and forth about every decision: turkey or ham, pumpkin pie or pecan, fancy dress or pajamas? Probably tired of listening to us talk about it, W. said he didn’t want traditional Thanksgiving food anyway. He said Thanksgiving should be like Charlie Brown’s. So that’s what we did. We had a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.


He and I went to Kroger and purchased supplies:

  • bread for toast,

  • pretzel sticks,

  • popcorn,

  • and jelly beans.

Because I like to be fancy, I purchased Palmetto Spread, which was a new thing I had never heard of before until we moved here. It’s like a version of pimento and cheese. Hubs really wanted a Honeybaked Ham, so we threw that into the mix. We assembled our feast and watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving while we ate. To us, it was perfect and a new tradition was born. The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is officially Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in our house.

Back when I was a kid, the annual Charlie Brown specials were something to rely on. It was some of the primary markers of the kid calendar. I have always loved A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving the most of the Charlie Brown big three – Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. It has the jazziest soundtrack. It features the winning combo of Peppermint Patty being extra and Marcy explaining to her why she’s extra. And, of course, it has Snoopy in the kitchen. Its colors are brighter, its costumes are lighter, and it shows that even at cartoon Thanksgivings, someone inevitably leaves the table in tears.


Like most traditions, we amended components of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving as the years passed. We added Publix fried chicken. We also all agree that we don’t like jelly beans, so we switched them for tropical Mike and Ike’s, which are jelly bean-ish. Somewhere along the line Orange Slices – the candy – were also added to the list. A few years ago, Behr added his own contribution. Inspired by an episode of Giada’s Holiday Handbook, we now adorn sugar cookies with frosting and candy corn to make turkey cookies. Sometimes we toast Hawaiian bread. Sometimes Cinnamon Toast. The only constant is the pretzel sticks and the popcorn. This year we will make another adjustment because Behr’s braces prohibit him from all gummy candies, which means this year we will replace the orange slices with M&M’s.

We will spread everything out on the table and then eat from paper plates in front of the TV. Someone will call Patty “the worst”, someone will question why Woodstock would be so comfortable with the wishbone, and an argument will break out over whether we are going to watch the follow-up cartoon where Lucy is one of the pilgrims, which will lead to someone else commenting that “No! Actually, Lucy is the worst.”


I mentioned Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to my friend Miss M. who exclaimed, “I love that y’all do that! I would love to do that when I have kids.”

I said, “You can! We don’t own the right to Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”


If Friendsgiving can become a thing, and Galentine’s Day can become a thing, and if Hallmark can convince parents everywhere that they should purchase a toy elf and nightly concoct elaborate scenes of the creature stirring up mischief while spying for Santa, surely friends and families at Thanksgiving can buy Publix chicken, jelly beans, and watch a cartoon together.

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