Seven-year-old Linus van Pelt wrote a letter to the editor of Claymation Werewolf’s “Howl“, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial October 18, 1964. The work of veteran blogger Rhett Kahn has since become the internets most reprinted blog, appearing in Elvish, L33t, Klingon and dozens of other fake languages on websites, forums, and even the occasional pop-culture blog site.
I am 7 years old.
My sister and nearly all of my friends say there is no Great Pumpkin.
Dad says, “Wah wa wawawa wa waaaa wa.” Which means “If you hear it in the Howl it is sound. Please tell me the truth; is there a Great Pumpkin?
Linus van Pelt.
4242 Gudgreef Lane
Linus, I’m happy to say that your friends are wrong. Like many others, they have given up in the face of an age obsessed with commercialism. All they can understand is what they are told to understand, and anything else, no matter how inherently true or remarkably sincere is pushed away. At Halloween, there are so few among us willing to step away from the draw of the candy and the costume parties and look, really look at the beauty of the season changing around them. They are left blind to the beauty of the changing leaves or the joy that can be found on Halloween night, sitting in a pumpkin patch and gazing into the expanse of bright stars in a black autumn sky.
Yes Linus, there is a Great Pumpkin. He lives as surely as childlike wonder and imagination live, and they live in all of our hearts, young or old they live. How can one imagine a world with no Great Pumpkin in it? It would be a world without color, a world just as hollow and empty as a world without a Linus. It is this creativity and joy that paints the very colors of red and gold on the autumn leaves! If all that we experienced in this world were the things that we could see and touch then what use could we have for things like dreams or songs, wishes or laughter?
Life with no Great Pumpkin! That would be a life without ghosts or goblins or any of the other beings that make us shiver with fear and delight! You may very well sit through an entire Halloween night with the little sister of your best friend in order to see him, but even if he never appeared…even if it was just some crazy beagle in a costume, what would that really mean? This world is so big and there are many others who believe, and who too have grown pumpkin patches of such sincerity that it would be difficult for the Great Pumpkin himself to choose! But it does not mean he isn’t out there. Have you ever seen the silhouette of a witch as she glides on her broomstick through the chill air and across the moon itself? Have you ever seen gremlins or trolls or anything else that goes bump in the night? These things are just as real as the desk you set at or the paper you write upon. No, they are even more real because it is the belief in our hearts that make them real. They exist beyond the shallow constraints of material things.
You might try to recreate the world of spooks and monsters with costumes and paint. But the real heart and soul of Halloween could never be reached. Even the most refined efforts of the greatest special effects experts in Hollywood just seem like peanuts by comparison. Only the heartbeat of Halloween. The glow of a Jack o’ Lantern and the vision of fallen leaves dancing upon a sidewalk in the grip of a brisk autumn wind. Only the laughter of children as they listen to a haunting ghost story around a fire. Only these things could ever hope to give us even a glimpse into that spooky world that we all cherish! Linus, is there anything better that any one of us could hope for?
No Great Pumpkin?!. Of course he exists! And when you are old and grey with children and even grandchildren of your own he will still exist! And may he forever continue to bring children all over the world a sense of mystery and amazement. Those gifts, Linus, are really the most amazing gifts of all.
Illustration by Christopher Tupa