Halloween will soon be here. When I was a child, it was one of my favorite holidays. But as an adult, it’s pretty much a non-event for me. Since we live on a busy traffic-filled street, we never have trick-or-treaters. It also seems that over the past few years, the tradition of trick-or-treat has been slowly dying out. Many parents are understandably concerned for their child’s safety and prefer to send them to parties or community-sponsored events. It seems that fewer homes are participating each year.  Many people are afraid to open their door at night to people they don’t know. Candy has become so expensive, that some can no longer afford to hand it out.

On Halloween night each year, I watch Linus Van Pelt convince Sally Brown to skip out on trick-or-treat and the Halloween party, and wait with him in a pumpkin patch. Linus is convinced that a huge pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch, fly through the air and bring toys to the good girls and boys. 

However, he remains skeptical about the existence of Santa Claus. 

Linus takes a lot of abuse for his beliefs. His older sister Lucy treats him very unkindly, but at least she does care enough to collect a bag of candy for him. 

I have to admire his determination to stand up for what he believes to be true. In spite of the ridicule, and the great pumpkin’s failure to arrive year after year, his faith never falters. He always sees the pumpkin’s failure to arrive as the result of his own shortcomings, and vows to find a more sincere pumpkin patch next year. 

Linus endures a lot of ridicule, but he has it easy compared to Charlie Brown.

I always feel bad for Charlie. Upon learning that Charlie had received an invitation to Violet’s Halloween party, Lucy throws a bucket of cold water on his excitement.

“If you got an invitation, it was a mistake Charlie Brown,” she informs him.

Lucy quickly lets him know that there were two lists. One with the names of those who were to receive invitations and another with the names of those not welcome. 

She makes it very clear that he was placed on the wrong list.

Undaunted, he attends the party anyway, and the girls quickly add insult to injury. When it is time to carve the pumpkin, they plan out their design by drawing it on the back of his baldhead. 

I can’t help but like Charlie. In many ways, he and I have a lot in common. I can easily relate to the way the other kids treat him. I am pretty sure I ended up on a number of “people not to invite lists” as I was growing up. I experienced the name-calling and the constant insults. I think Charlie and I could have been very good friends. 

For Charlie, no matter how hard he tries things always seem to go wrong. He joins the others to go trick-or-treating, but year after year it never goes well. After receiving their treats, the group takes a moment to compare the treats they have received before going on to the next house. One has a candy bar, another has a popcorn ball, and yet another has some cookies.  But not Charlie, every house he visits gives him a rock. 

What kind of people would give a small kid a rock instead of a treat? 

I always find myself wishing that I could go inside the TV and give him a big bag of candy, preferably Lucy’s bag. I also find myself wishing I could throw all of Charlie’s rocks at her and soap the windows of those who gave him rocks instead of candy. 

I’ve always thought that Charlie seemed like a pretty nice fellow. I have never been able to figure out why so many of his peers dislike him. Even with all of the insults that are heaped on him day after day, and all of the name-calling and rejection, I have never seen him mistreat or insult anyone. 

I always feel bad for Charlie, and yet I admire him. He knows people don’t like him, and he doesn’t understand why. But he never gives up and he never tries to get even. 

Charlie keeps looking for the good in people, and wants to believe they will change. I don’t know how many times I have seen Lucy hold the football for him to kick. She always pulls it away at the last minute and he lands flat on his back. One would think he would wise-up and reject Lucy’s offer or maybe give her a swift kick instead. 

But not Charlie, he believes that one day she will do the right thing and he will be successful in his effort to kick that ball. 

There are always going to be Lucy’s in this world. Our world is full of people who are cruel, arrogant and will try to build themselves up by putting others down. The Lucy’s of the world will say anything and do anything to come out on top. They don’t care who they hurt. For some reason, they have to make others feel small in order to feel important. 

If the truth was known, most people probably don’t care much for Lucy, they’re just afraid to cross her. It’s hard to believe that anyone would rather have her as a friend instead of a kind, gentle and sincere person like Charlie. 

No doubt as Charlie goes door to door again this year he’ll end up with another bag of rocks. Linus will wait expectantly in the pumpkin patch, only to be disappointed once again. But even with the unkindness and disappointment they face year after year, they will never give up or intentionally mistreat anyone, and they will keep expecting good things to happen. 

Our world would be a better place if we had more Charlie’s and more Linus’s in it. 

Who knows, this might be the year that Linus gets to see great pumpkin and Charlie finally kicks the football and gets a big sack of candy. 

I hope so.

Be safe, be nice and have a happy Halloween!

CourierTraveler reporter John Shelman can be contacted at (620) 442-4200 or reporter@ctnewsonline.com.

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