How Can You Say Someone Is Great…

…who’s never had his picture on a bubblegum card? This is the question posed by Lucy van Pelt in A Charlie Brown Christmas. And before anyone jumps down my throat about it being too early for Christmas stuff, A Charlie Brown Christmas is clearly an advent movie, not a Christmas movie. It is set during the time when people are getting ready for Christmas (hence rehearsing a Christmas play, rather than performing it), and it was first aired on December 9, in the year of our Lord 1965.

So go ahead and jump down my throat for it being too early for advent stuff—to be fair, it is still ordinary time—but be warned that I have sharp teeth and strong jaws.

Anyway, back to the question Lucy poses: how can you say someone is great who’s never had his picture on a bubblegum card? This joke was funny back in 1965, but I think that it’s gained in humor, over the years, because bubblegum cards are no longer something children collect. I believe that they’re technically still made, or at least trading cards are. The Topps company still exists and still makes baseball cards, though I’ve no idea who buys them. I collected baseball cards for about a year, back in the 1980s, and rapidly lost interest. So far as I knew no one else collected them back then, and in the intervening three decades I’ve never heard of anyone collecting them. (There are still trading cards that are popular such as Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon, but these are not relevant because they do not feature the pictures of real people.)

This was a childish question when Lucy asked it, but it was also an ephemeral question, which she would have had no way of knowing back then. This works with the theme of the show, though; it’s all about how people were caught up in the ephemeral world and had no idea of what really matters. The way that Lucy’s question works with this theme has only become better with age.


Fun fact: if Lucy was 11 when A Charlie Brown Christmas aired she would be 67 now (in the year of our Lord 2021).

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