Tag Archives: Holidays

Thankful for What We Have: A Review of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Poster for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Image shows Charlie Brown and Snoopy standing next to table with a turkey and pie on it.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a 1973 animated Thanksgiving film about Charlie Brown, the famous animated character from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, throwing an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner for all of his friends.

The other films in this holiday trilogy in it include A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965 and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown from 1966.

They all work as standalone stories. There is no need to watch them in a specific order.

I decided to review A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving because it’s the least well known part of this trilogy. It wasn’t something I was aware of growing up even though I knew about and liked the other films.

This review won’t contain a list of characters for spoiler reasons. The run time was only 25 minutes for this film, so I don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to discussing the plot without giving away what happens in it.

My Review

The premise was one of the other reasons why I wanted to review this film. I can’t imagine throwing together a Thanksgiving dinner on the same day I discovered such a thing was expected of me. Ugh!

Charlie Brown (who is pictured in the film poster above) didn’t even have the advantage of knowing how to roast a turkey or make all of the traditional side dishes for this holiday. He was a child who was just beginning to learn to make simple dishes like toast and popcorn, so his predicament was even worse than I originally assumed it would be.

I was intrigued by what a Thanksgiving dinner cooked by a kid his age would be like and if he’d figure out how to get everything warm and on the table at the same time. Seeing what that process was like for him was a great deal of fun.

One of the other unexpected twists in this film had to do with what happens when Thanksgiving doesn’t turn out the way you thought it would. That message is just as relevant now as it was nearly fifty years ago. Honestly, it’s even more relevant now in some ways than it was when it first came out!

I loved the way the filmmakers approached the concept of feeling disappointment about the holiday festivities you’d planned and how to handle that emotion.

There are so many more things I want to say about the expectation of having a “perfect” Thanksgiving…but they’ll quickly wander into spoiler territory if I’m not careful.

It was also interesting to note how the culture of Thanksgiving has evolved since 1973. The ways the characters talked about the first Thanksgiving and this holiday in general weren’t exactly the same as they’re often discussed these days, although they did remind me of how these topics were handled when I was a kid.

I wonder what kids today would think of this tale?

Do note that the preview I included below for this short film is an original one from 1973 and does include some spoilers.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is available on Apple TV.

Unlikely Gleaning: A Review of Harvest

Harvest - A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch book cover. Image on cover is of silhoutte of man with a pumpkin for a head walking in a pumpkin field while a full moon glows behind him. I’d like to thank Berthold Gambrel for reviewing this book and bringing it to my attention.

Title: Harvest – A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch

Author: Jason H. Abbott

Publisher: Blue Boar Press

Publication Date: October 7, 2019

Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Historical, Holidays

Length: 19 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb:

Equal parts eerie, humorous and heartwarming, Harvest is a short story of down-home fantasy and a fairytale for grown-ups best told in the dark…

With whimsical humor and eccentric fantasy dappled in darkness, fans of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett will enjoy this short tale of kindness found in odd places. If quirky characters with a country twang and a fairytale detoured to the pumpkin patch sound good to you, then Harvest will surely prove an entertaining read!

Review:

It’s not every day that horror and humour coexist in the same plot.

Imagine waking up in a pumpkin field and not being able to see or speak. That idea sure made me shudder, especially once Edgar (the protagonist) realized that his head felt like a pumpkin instead of flesh and bone.

What intrigued me even more about it was the fact that this scene was written humorously even more than it was meant to frighten anyone. If horror isn’t a genre you typically read, consider giving this a try anyway. While there was one scary moment near the beginning, the plot has so much else going on in it that I think it will appeal to a lot of different reading demographics.

Sometimes this felt like the opening chapter of a long fantasy novel. There were hints sprinkled here and there to explain what was going on with Edgar’s head and how other folks were dealing with the strange phenomenon on this farm. They quickly coalesced into a surprisingly thorough explanation of how this world worked, especially given the fact that the author had less than twenty pages to work with.

While I was satisfied with what the narrator revealed, I also wanted more. I enjoyed the way the author wrote a short, encapsulated story that also left a lot of room for readers to come up with our own theories about what might happen to the Edgar and Emelia, the woman who helped him, next.

The fairy tale elements of the storyline are best left to new readers to discover for themselves. As much as I want to gush about them, they’re revealed late enough that I don’t want to share any plot twists. Let’s just say that this is a truly magical farm where anything can happen.

Do note that the full blurb for this tale contains spoilers, so reader beware if you’re like me and prefer to be surprised by a book.

If you love Halloween or the fantasy genre, I highly recommend checking out Harvest – A Short Story from the Pumpkin Patch.

 

Take a Walk This Thanksgiving

Close-up shot of a leaf-littered autumn path. Both sides of the path are surrounded by trees and bushes that are still half-full with their autumn leaves and colour. This post will meander much like my Thanksgiving strolls do.

One of my favourite things to do on Thanksgiving or any other holiday that has decent weather is to take a walk.

If the big meal of the day is scheduled for the evening or if the weather is expected to turn chilly later on, I’ll wander off in the afternoon when the temperature is as its warmest.

Ideally, someone will join me, but there’s also something to be said for walking quietly with your thoughts on a day like this one.

Thanksgiving is one of those big holidays that temporarily shuts down the usual rhythms of life here in Ontario. This is even more true this year due to our government asking us to celebrate it with other members of our households only and avoid all unnecessary in-person interactions with other people now that the second wave of Covid-19 is surging.

Yes, there are advantages to gathering with kind relatives during the holidays. I miss my parents, siblings, sister-in-law, and nephews and dream of the day when my spouse and I can be together with them again.

But there are also advantages to quiet holidays at home, and a walk at the nicest part of the day is one of them.

Our slice of the world is a fairly still place on Thanksgiving even during ordinary times. If they’re lucky enough not to be working, most folks stay home and rest on that day or go visit relatives.

The streets are nearly as empty as they’ll be a few months from now at Christmas. Very few restaurants and other places of business are open today, and I tend to avoid the ones that are to encourage them to give their employees a break.

A walk doesn’t require anyone to put on a uniform, miss out on time with their loved ones, or clean up after you. At most, you might need to find something delicious to nibble on in the kitchen when you return back home.

Walks are meditative. There’s nothing like looking at the beautiful world around you, whether it is a forest painted with all of the colours of autumn, a suburban park filled with curious wildlife, or a quiet urban road that somehow feels like a poem that’s about to begin whenever you unexpectedly see a car drive by.

Parent and child taking a walk on an autumn-leaf-strewn path. Taking a walk is a gentle form of exercise that most people are capable of doing. A pet, small child, senior family member, or loved one who might have a disability that makes more strenuous forms of exercise difficult may be able to join you.

If the pets in your life are anything like the dogs my family had back in the day, they will insist on joining you and might just keep you out of the house much longer than you were expecting to be gone!

Good conversations can happen on walks. Yes, this can include conversations with yourself if you’re walking alone. I am not ashamed to admit that I occasionally talk to myself on walks to sort out a problem or figure out what to do with my stories next.

Walking is non-competitive…unless you’re my siblings who genuinely find joy in making everything a competition between them. Ha! For the rest of us, it’s a form of exercise that doesn’t require any scorekeeping or picking a winner.

It’s tempting to overindulge during the holidays. I find it helpful to go take a walk before I decide whether my stomach truly needs another slice of pie or serving of mashed potatoes and gravy. Whether the answer to that question is yes or no, there’s definitely something to be said for giving your body some time to start digesting what you’ve already eaten before digging into another plate. I’d rather be stopped at the point of satiation than cross that line and end up uncomfortably full.

Have I convinced you to go take a walk yet? I hope you enjoy it if I have.

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Canadians!

Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Easter

A white rabbit sitting on grass next to coloured easter eggs.Two years ago, I wrote Are There Any Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories About Easter?

This is a follow-up to that post that has been slowly compiled over time.

Just like in 2018, I was interested in non-religious Easter stories that fit somewhere into the speculative fiction spectrum.

There were no other criteria. I was totally open to short stories, novellas, or novels. Something written in 1800 would have been just as welcomed as something that was published last week.

So it came as a surprise to me to see what a short list I came up with. The vast majority of the titles on this list are children’s picture books. This was after I trimmed out all of the storybooks about Cartoon Character X’s first Easter. I’m sure they’re adorable stories, but I didn’t want them to crowd out everything else I found.

Children’s Picture Books

These were the picture books that appealed most to me. My parents read The Runaway Bunny to us when my siblings and I were growing up, and it was lovely.

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz

The Story of the Easter Bunny by Katherine Tegen

The Easter Rabbit’s Parade by Lois Lenski

The Easter Bunny That Ate My Sister by Dean Marney

Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

After coming up with these titles, I had some success with speculative fiction that was written for an adult audience. In order to add this section, I needed to loosen up my “no religion” criteria a tad. Both of their blurbs do make references to non-secular celebrations of this holiday, but they don’t appear to be written in a proselytizing manner from what I can tell.

The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

The Circle of Six: Emily’s Quest by Dan Sanders

What Would You Add?

What books can you add to this list? I’d love to write a follow-up post if or when the speculative fiction community realizes how much fodder there is in Easter for all sorts of different tales.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even write one myself!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope to Find Under My Tree

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Santa's red bag overflowing with presentsThis week’s topic was a little tricky for me because the list of books that I want to read but haven’t already purchased as e-books or requested from the library is honestly pretty small. When you add my minimalistic lifestyle on top of that, I’ll admit that I can be a difficult person to buy presents for.

What I ended up doing with this prompt was coming up with a list of titles that my library doesn’t carry and that were hard to find in e-book form the last time I looked for them.

It’s quite possible that one or both of these things have changed for any of these titles. Maybe I’ll do more searches for them after Christmas ends? Or maybe it’s best to keep these as ideas for people who want to buy me stuff and are totally stumped by what to get? What do you all think?

Book cover for The Witch Under the Mountain by Audrey N. Allison

1. The Witch Under the Mountain by Audrey N. Allison 

Why I Want to Read It: A friend of mine gave it a great review a few months ago. Witches and ghosts are also things I enjoy reading about in general, so combining the two is automatically going to make me perk up.

2. Interference (Semiosis Duology #2) by Sue Burke

Why I Want to Read It: I was a huge fan of the first book! It’s surprising to me that my library doesn’t have it yet considering how popular Semiosis was.

Book cover for Defying Doomsday by Tsana Dolchva.

3. Defying Doomsday by Tsana Dolchva

Why I Want to Read It: It’s still disappointingly rare for characters who have disabilities or chronic illnesses to be main characters in science fiction stories. I’ve been yearning to read this book ever since stumbling across a reference to it on a blog earlier this year.

4. The Deep by Rivers Solomon 

Why I Want to Read It: I’ve heard amazing things about this book from other bloggers. The premise of it makes me think of a horrifying scene in the 1970s Roots mini-series that showed Africans being thrown off slave ships to drown in the middle of the ocean. I love the fact that Ms. Solomon decided to create a world where these people not only survived but thrived.

Creepy Christmas: A Review of Krampus

Content Warning: Blood and a dysfunctional family. I will be briefly mentioning these things in my review. Krampus is a 2015 dark fantasy horror comedy film about a young boy named Max who has a disappointing Christmas with his argumentative, dysfunctional relatives and accidentally summons a festive demon to his home as a result of it.… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: 10 Gifts for People Who Love Minimalism

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Last week I had trouble commenting on some of the WWBC participants whose sites are hosted on Blogger. I will try to comment on your posts again this week! Here’s hoping that issue was solved. So what do you buy for someone who already has everything they need and… Read More

A  True Selfless Act Always Sparks Another: A Review of Klaus

Last year I blogged about my to-watch list of science fiction and fantasy films. Since then, I’ve been periodically reviewing science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction films. Previous instalments in this series include Into the Forest, Annihilation, Coco, Winchester, The Little Stranger, Astraea, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, A Dog’s Purpose, and Jurassic… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl While I don’t really celebrate any winter holidays with anything other than a nice meal, I still enjoy reading books about or set in this part of the year. 1. Yuletide Tales A Festive Collective by Peter John I’ve never seen such a diverse assortment of stories related to Christmas.… Read More