Waiting For The Great Pumpkin

GreatPumpkinForty-five years is a long time to wait for anything. But that’s how long Linus has been waiting for the “Great Pumpkin” to appear.

Linus is one of the characters from the popular Peanuts comic strip (picture stories that appear in newspapers). Listen to him tell his friend Snoopy why he’s been waiting:

On Halloween night the “Great Pumpkin” rises out of the pumpkin patch (garden) that he picks as the most sincere (honest, truthful). Then he flies through the air bringing toys to all the good children in the world. Just think, Snoopy, if he picks this pumpkin patch, you and I will be here to see him!

Linus is sure he’s right. But his friends aren’t. Charlie Brown, his best friend, thinks Linus is confused (not able to think clearly):

Charlie: I can’t believe in the “Great Pumpkin” because I’ve never seen him!
Linus: But he exists (is real). I tell you! On Halloween night he rises out of the pumpkin patch, and flies through the air!
Charlie: I think you have him confused with Santa Claus.
Linus: Would I confuse the sun and the moon? Would I confuse NBC with CBS (TV networks)? Would I confuse the American League (group of baseball teams) with the National League? Would I?
Charlie: (to himself) I can’t stand (accept or put up with) it!

Lucy is sure that Linus’ problem is much worse than being confused:

Lucy: Stupid*! Foolish*, that’s what it is! Stupid and foolish!
Linus (writing to the “Great Pumpkin”): Dear Great Pumpkin – Halloween will soon be here. We are all looking forward to your arrival.
Lucy: Ridiculous*!
Linus (writing) Next week you will rise out of the pumpkin patch, and fly through the air.
Lucy: Absurd*!
Linus (writing) You will bring presents to all the good little boys and girls in the world.
Lucy: Preposterous*!
Linus: I have tried to be good all year long, and hope that you will bring me lots of presents.
Lucy: Crazy*! Completely crazy!
Lucy (as Linus puts on his coat and prepares to take his letter to the mailbox): Outrageous (shocking)! Insane*! Totally and completely insane!

Linus hasn’t convinced (to make someone believe) his friends about the “Great Pumpkin,” but after arguing with them and waiting for all these years, he has learned one thing:

(Talking to himself) I should have known better … There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people … religion, politics and the “Great Pumpkin”.

After 45 years, the “Great Pumpkin” still hasn’t appeared. But a television special – It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – has. And it is rerun (played again) every year. So every year we wait with Linus, watch the television special, and hope … that this will be the year.

* Vocabulary note: stupid, foolish, ridiculous, absurd, and preposterous all have the idea of being silly or unreasonable; ridiculous adds the idea of “very”; absurd and preposterous add the idea of “completely”. Crazy and insane suggest mental problems.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Peanuts comic strip conversations from www.peanuts.com.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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12 Responses to Waiting For The Great Pumpkin

  1. Marcos says:

    Hi everyone

    I understand the history totally, but I think this phrase is little confused to me understand: “that he picks as the most sincere”. I think that he ( Santa Claus ) picks the most better pumpkin and … so what? …
    Thank you Warren for one more great challenge to me in English.

    Nice day to us

  2. Dan says:

    Hello everyone,

    I was looking at a clip of the show on You Tube. It’s well done and really cute.

    In it, there is Lucy that goes outside at 4 in the morning in order to get Linus that is sleeping on the floor waiting for the pumpkin.

    That is so sweet and cute. I also find it funny because of the sounds effects. Linus is freezing outside and his teeth are going like crazy “ratatatattatataaa” How do you call that in English? Biting teeth?

    And also later, when she pulls off Linus shoes. I find that sound effect so funny. I wish it was like that in real life. That would make life funnier.

    I have just found out there is something similar from the Simpsons. Unfortunately is on Hulu and in my country (Italy) it’s not available.
    The Simpsons series for Halloween are great.

    Thank you Warren

  3. Marcos asks a good question. Let’s see if I can answer it.

    Charlie is right: Linus is confused – about a lot of things. It’s easy to see that he has confused the Great Pumpkin with Santa Claus. He’s confused in another way when he uses the word “sincere” to describe a pumpkin patch (garden). Only people can be sincere. When we call someone sincere, we mean that they are real, honest, not fake. There’s a similar old Greek word that means “not hiding behind a mask (like at Halloween!)”, or being yourself.

    Linus says that the Great Pumpkin will pick the pumpkin patch that is most sincere (whatever that means to Linus!) and be seen there first, before he flies around the world (like Santa Claus) to give gifts to all the children. He wants to be the first person to see the Great Pumpkin.

  4. Marcos says:


    My sincere thanks Warren for help me understand the use of this word “sincere” in this way.

    Have a nice day

  5. Betty says:

    Thanks Dear Warren for bringing back sweet memories to me. “Peanuts” was well known in Hong Kong even when I was little. I didn’t have money to buy the story books/cartoon magazines, but I sometimes read a small strip of it from the newspaper.

    Charlie Brown was one of my favourite characters. I have almost forgotten Snoopy. In fact, I didn’t remember the names of all the other characters. Was there a Lucy? And a Linus?

    I have bought a small pumpkin (about 8 inches in diameter) from the supermarket about two weeks ago. It’s still sitting there, in the kitchen. I had not bought it to make a Jack O’ Lantern. I bought it because it’s very cheap. I think I should cut it into small pieces and boil it together with rice. It’s very tasty and very healthy. I also like to roast or stir fry the pumpkin seeds. They are palatable.

    Hey, where’s Emiliano and lots of our regular writers? Please do write so that we know you’re all right.

    Winter is coming and the weather is gloomy, but please join us and give us some warmth.

    Many thanks again Warren and you guys who keep writing. Writing is hard work, now I know, and that’s why I’m thankful.

    Have a Great Day Everyone!

    Betty 🙂

  6. emiliano says:

    Dear all, dear Betty and Friends.

    Lately Cuca is not so good, I need more time to look after her, also my mind is not in English now.
    My thoughts and mind are in Spanish as I writing a novel in my own languate. The first novel
    that Emiliano is writing.

    I have to dedícate a lot of time to write the story and also some time I am thinking about the plot, so
    have not a good disposition to write in Englis, sorry but I am being sincere.

    I am reading every thing that is written in the blog and may be I am taking also a relax from being
    so much present in all the post along the last six, or five, or may be seven years o ESL Blog´s life.

    Thank you so much Betty for asking, I am really good but very very bussy with the new plrojects.

    My best to all of you. emiliano

  7. Thiago Messias says:

    That´s a great and interesting article!! Thanks thanks for sharing 😉

  8. Parviz says:

    Hi every one,
    I am here, present.
    Hey emiliano, I feel for you.
    It is so much hard seeing your loved one suffering.
    But never consider yourselves alone, as to you are in our prayer, day in day out.
    Tomorrow I’ll write more.
    Buy for now

  9. Betty says:

    Thank you Dear Emiliano.

    Your post appearing above gives us everyone here a ray of hope.

    I’m very sorry to hear that Cuca has been unwell. I hope she gets better soon. She’s very lucky to have you to care for her. Emiliano what you’re doing will give credit to your future lives. I’m not trying to be superstitious, but I do believe good people good acts should bring upon goodness to themselves. You probably won’t be able to use up all the credit in this life, but you’ll be able to use it in future lives.

    Sorry if you don’t believe in things like that. I’m sure a lot of our friends here don’t believe in afterlife neither. But there’s no harm in believing it.

    Don’t worry about writing long post here. Just drop us a line whenever you feel like it. We understand.

    Do tell us when you publish your novel. I think I’ll buy one even when I can’t understand Spanish.

    I’ll try to learn Spanish in order to understand your story.

    Best Regards

    Betty 🙂

  10. MMC says:

    Hi there! Thank you so much Warren for bring to me those fabulous days of my infancy, where the comic strip of “Peanuts”
    was the first I read in newspapers comics.
    Bye for now.

  11. emiliano says:

    Betty, Parviz, all dear friends, thank you so much.
    Yes, Betty, now I believe in God, He helped me when I was so bad two years ago.
    He thinks I was still necessry here to care Cuca and other friends that love us, so
    here I am doing my tasks with love and being grateful of thinking there is possible
    another good life for all us.

    First time I´try to write a long story in Spanis, or in English, and it is funny that
    the story has its own life when I am writing.
    It goes up just at the same time I sit myself infront of the computer and started
    to type very fast without looking the fingers and having worked in a bank I could
    move the fingers on the keeboard without thinking or looking the types.
    Just in the blind method that is absolutely useful.

    Cuca is here at my side, no the wheel chair as she can´t walk with walker as she
    did before when she wanted to go to the bathroom or tho the bed.
    Now it is necessary to help her every moment and care her like a big little girl
    or baby with the pants and so on.

    It is life, but she is at my side and it is the best of our situation. We love each other
    absolutely. She is my life, I am her´s life too.

    Again thank you dear Betty, Parviz, Tania, Dan, and all of you. I am not alone, I know
    it perfectly well.


  12. Bekhruz says:

    Hello everyone! After reading this story, I’ve found a quastion. I know about Helloween but only a little. My quastion is: When this holiday had been celebrated? and I also would like to read about this holiday, how do many americans celebrate this holiday? I hope you will give me answers for my quastions.

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