“Mama, may I color in this book? It’s full of comic strips, but most of them are in black and white.” It is Saturday morning, and my daughter is sitting on our living room floor, flipping through a large book as I am attacking a pile of laundry on the couch. I walk over to where she is seated and notice that she has pulled the Peanuts: A Golden Celebration collector’s edition, from the bookcase. She lifts a red crayon eager to fill in the sketches the moment I grant permission.
Gently pulling the comic book from her hands, I explain that this book is one of great value. I lead her to the couch, push the clothes to the side, and look through the pages realizing that while I had browsed all the comic strips on the pages, I never took the time to read the introduction written by Charles Schulz himself.
As I pull my sweet girl in my lap and start to read the opening words aloud, I hear her whisper, “but, Mama, why is it so special?”
The First Gift
My husband, Sam, and I began dating in the Autumn of 1999 and celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together in February 2000. Having just returned home from Greece, he booked reservations at our local Grek restaurant.
Being from the Midwest and not very accustomed to this type of fare, I remember being slightly out of my comfort zone. I didn’t realize how far I was from said comfort zone until the waiter presented our appetizer: a cheese platter engulfed in flames, which he then proceeded to douse with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Side note, this is the most delicious appetizer!
After the meal, Sam presented me with a gift. He did not give me the traditional bouquet of roses, which I am thankful for, seeing that I am one of very few that prefer daisies over roses any day of the week. Instead, he slid a large package across the restaurant table. Tearing into the paper, I spotted the gold corner of the same book that I now read to our daughter. However, the meaning behind the book made it of great value, and the fact that he understood the significance impacted me.
Sunday Morning Funnies
As a young girl, I loved Sunday mornings. Before church, I often ventured downstairs to an empty kitchen to spot an opened box of donuts awaiting us on the table. If I saw the opened box, I knew that my dad, a pastor, had already gotten up, eaten breakfast, finished preparing his morning sermon, and headed to his church office across the street. I was always sad that I missed him; however, right next to that donut box sat my favorite part of the morning, the newspaper. I loved the weekend editions the most.
If I managed to wake early enough, I could catch my dad still at the kitchen table, with the Sunday paper scattered in a circle around him. I would stumble to the table, grab a donut out of the box, and hear him chuckle between sips of his coffee. He would smile at me as I plated a powdered sugar donut, and I would watch him make a pained face over which section of the comics to sacrifice.
He always knew what I wanted, so he would wink and place Charlie and the rest of the Peanut gang into my eager nine-year-old grasp. To this day, I can’t eat a powder sugared donut without thinking back to those mornings.
Experiences Bind Us
I finish telling my story and can tell my girl is eager to get back to reading the comics. As I glance down, my eyes land on a paragraph that I had never noticed before.
Charles Schultz writes, “My father was a barber (like Charlie Brown’s father). Frequently in the evenings I went to the barbershop to wait for my father to finish work and then walk home with him. He loved to read the comic strips, and we discussed them and worried about what was going to happen next to certain characters. On Saturday evening, I would run to the local drugstore at 9:00 when the Sunday pages were delivered and buy the two Minneapolis papers. The next morning, the two Saint Paul papers would be delivered, so we had four conic sections to read.”
I leaned back and chuckled at the story. Here, I held a book that contained such significance, reading about how Schultz shared similar experiences with his father and the comics as I did with my own. Suddenly, I felt a little more connected to the creator behind the art bringing me happiness for the last three decades. I now witnessed the same happiness on my own child’s face as I read about Sally and her love for a boy who only had eyes for his blue blanket.
Experience binds us and unites us all in ways that provide understanding and encouragement while taking a little of the edge off of loneliness.
Lessons from the Comic Book
As I close the book, a thought strikes me: Experience binds us and unites us all in ways that provide understanding and encouragement while taking a little of the edge off of loneliness. In a world where opposition seems to loom large, I realize that similar experiences may work to connect us if only we are open enough to share them. So this week, I vow to look at and engage with those around me. I will smile more and initiate conversations. Who knows, maybe I will make a new friend, someone who loves powdered sugar donuts as much as I do.