Popcorn Only Made it Better
Yesterday being Halloween reminded me of how I would look forward to seeing the It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown special on TV each year. When I was five years old I'd been in a froth all day to see it and on the evening it was shown I fell asleep on the sofa and didn't wake up until the closing credits were on the screen. I was crushed and I tearfully asked my mother why she didn't wake me up to see the show and she only replied that she thought I'd rather sleep. Had she lost her mind? How could she not know that seeing that show was the most important thing ever? I dreaded going to kindergarten the next day where all my friends would be talking about seeing Charlie Brown and I'd have to admit that I'd slept through it.
Christmas was another time when I'd look forward to special cartoons. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I considered the Frosty the Snowman cartoon to be a bit lame but I would not miss seeing it.
But of all the annual aimed-at-kids shows I had to watch each year the one I looked forward to most - the Holy Grail of kid programming - was the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz. I'd see commercials for it on TV and I'd be marking the calendar.
On the day it was shown (usually on Sunday nights if I'm not mistaken and always on CBS), I would count down the hours. I would have everything done - my bath taken, my hair washed, my homework done, my clothes laid out for the next day - so that nothing would interfere with my favorite movie. My siblings and parents knew that on that night the television (at that time we had only one) was under my control.
And while it was on I was glued to it. I knew every word to every song and my lips would move along noiselessly as they were sung. I mimicked the Munchkins and became appropriately spooked by the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys. My family didn't have a color TV until I was about eight years old so until then I had no idea the Wicked Witch was green. Actually I had no idea that most of the time the movie was in color until finally my friends at school got color TVs and mentioned it.
The next day my friends would sit at lunch and over our sandwiches talk about how great The Wizard of Oz was and how it was the best movie ever. It was perfect and yeah, that Willie Wonka movie was pretty neat too but Willie Wonka's factory wasn't nearly as great as Oz.
Now I have The Wizard of Oz on DVD and I expect that most kids have it on DVD. Kids can watch The Wizard of Oz every day and watch The Great Pumpkin in February and watch Santa Claus is Coming to Town in August if that's what they like and as a child I probably would have envied the ability to do that. But there was that delicious feeling of anticipation that was nearly as good as watching the program itself. It's that same sort of feeling kids get just before a big holiday or their birthday or summer vacation - those annual events that you look forward to for so long and it makes you savor that special time even more thoroughly. Perhaps the eight year olds of today would feel sorry that my eight year old self had to limit my viewings of favorite shows to once a year but I feel a bit sorry for them having a little bit less to look forward to.