Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin

Thanksgiving is here at last, or “already” if you're one of those unprepared types. Yes it's time for the scared American institution of gorging on insurmountable quantities of foodstuffs to celebrate the overtaking of a native cultures land. Nah, I really don't care about the moral logistics of the day. Frankly I'm more concerned with how the addition of dried fruit could make or break my stuffing. If you're a bear of the Berenstain variety the holiday is more likely to revolve around a moralizing mother and vindictive father. Let's see how they celebrate the season shall we?

The first few pages of The Prize Pumpkin actually had me a little worried. Everything's peaceful and upbeat, not to mention the remarkably wordy passages about the wonders of Autumn (sounds like the title for a sextape). My fear turned out to be unwarranted as Papa bear yet again saves the day by page seven when he proclaims his friend, Farmer Ben to be “not such a much.” Is this something people actually say? Not such a much? I swear to multiple deities I've never heard that phrase before. And what has Papa feeling despicable this time around? He's very proud of a giant pumpkin growing in their field which Farmer Brown referred to as “a nice little patch.” Oh you best believe this shit just got real.

After dinner, the cubs start complaining how with Halloween over and Christmas so far away, there's nothing good to look forward too. Consider that Mama's cue to commence a speech about a wonderful day called Thanksgiving that he kids have somehow never heard of in their time on this planet. Thankfully Papa butts in on her chatter by announcing how he plans to enter his pumpkin into the town pumpkin contest and finally dethrone Farmer Ben who's been the winner for the past decade. Papa immediately begins series of mentally unstable behavior by sitting outdoors and watching the Giant grow. Yes he gave the pumpkin a title.

Over the next few weeks, Papa's mental degradation continues. First it's fairly innocent acts like special plant food and timed watering. Later it escalates into covering the pumpkin in a blanket so it doesn't get cold and talking to it. His conversation points are from a book he bought from the local swindler, Raffish Ralph. Yep; Bear valley has an officially designated swindler, and people buy things from him without thinking “oh right, he's a swindler.” The cubs interrupt a deep conversation with vine fruit to inform Papa that Brown has his large scale pumpkin he refers to as the Monster. This is really all just a thinly veiled allegory for penis envy, isn't it? Just like you'd expect any responsible parent to behave, Papa encourages his children to trespass at night into a dark field only to be chased away by the threat of pitchfork.

Finally the day of the big contest arrives and wouldn't you know it, Papa only achieves 3rd place behind Farmer Brown and the old witch from Trick or Treat. The ensuing shame march towards home leaves Mama with a clear window for another moralizing speech about all the family has to be thankful for. Her loved ones begin to feel better by staring off at the cool Autumn scenery, truly thankful for any distraction from her nonsense.

On Thanksgiving day, Sister remarks how happy she is that their pumpkin didn't win the honor of being displayed in front of city hall as it was instead slaughtered and turned into various pies. That's what they do to losers in this family. It all wraps up with a page about how the bears understand how blessed they are to have family, friends, etc. All of which are conspicuously absent from their dinner table.

And on that cynical note, have a happy Thanksgiving. No matter if you're doing the classic overdose of family or a more private affair, I sincerely hope you have a good time. I'll attempt to get one more post up before the month is out so keep an eye out for something this weekend. Until then, don't wreck yourselves too much on mashed potatoes.

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