As I continue my love affair with A Charlie Brown Christmas, I will be highlighting the different characters to see what we can discover from them. First up is Lucy.
Lucille Van Pelt
Or, Lucy as we know her is the bossy, opinionated, self appointed leader of the Peanuts group. She is the older sister to Linus and Rerun. On the surface she is a bully. We grew up laughing at her yanking the football away from poor Charlie Brown, but even as a child I felt bad at laughing. I felt sorry for Charlie Brown. Lucy was mean to him and he just kept being her friend. I think there is something deeper about this relationship.
Lucy is the oldest child in the family and, as all oldest children know, that means you have the most responsibility. For Lucy, responsibility translated to bossy behavior to keep everyone in line. She tends to be fairly black and white, this or that, in her dealings with other people. She doesn’t mince words, speaks her mind and moves on before realizing the effect she has on people. Don’t we all know someone like this in our lives?
Lucy wants real estate from Santa for Christmas. In this classic exchange between Charlie Brown and Lucy, we get a glimpse into her personality.
“I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes of something like that.”
“What is it you really want?”
I imagine that she grew up to be a corporate raider or hedge fund manager. She loves power, control and money. Her Achilles’ tendon is the unrequited crush she has on Schroeder; he is equally focused on himself but for him it is all about music, specifically Beethoven. It never mattered how flagrantly she throws herself at him, he never notices. There is some poetic justice in this relationship.
Lucy’s Soft Side
Lucy’s directness and take charge attitude doesn’t indicate she is mean, uncaring or a bully. It is still hard for me to watch the football scenes, but now I wonder, “Why did Charlie Brown keep coming back for more?” Is there something about Lucy that we can’t see but should know based on the fact that Charlie Brown continues to be her friend? I don’t have specific examples, but I think deep down Lucy really liked Charlie Brown and wished she had a little of his kindness and caring.
She didn’t have to make Charlie Brown the director of the Christmas play. Because he had visited her at her psychiatrist stand earlier in the story, she knew he was depressed and, according to her diagnosis, suffered from pantophobia, the fear of everything.
People like Lucy stare fear in the face and boldly march into battle. The Charlie Brown’s of the world take a step back into the safety of the known. Lucy drop kicked Charlie Brown out of his comfort zone and smack dab in the middle of chaos. Would she really have risked the success of the play if she didn’t think Charlie Brown was up for the task? She defended him to the entire cast, including Snoopy. Linus was the only other one who came alongside Charlie Brown in his moment of need.
What To Do With The Lucys In Our Life
Everyone has a Lucy. Some folks may have more than one. Lucys are not always easy to like. Their bossy, demanding nature and often gruff exterior is off putting especially to the quiet introverts of the world. I generally avoid Lucys at all costs. They are just too emotionally draining for me. But, I have learned that if I am patient, get to know them and vice versa, I usually find a really tender and kind person underneath the huff and puff exterior.
As with everything that matters in life if we set aside our own issues, prejudices and viewpoints for just a moment, there is room for something new to shine through. Sometimes the biggest hearts come wrapped in sandpaper. Wear them down and untold riches are just waiting to be discovered.
I am saving Linus for Friday. Tomorrow I will write about the rest of the supporting cast as well all have our very own Peanut Gallery sitting on the sidelines of life.