Why I totally cried at The Peanuts Movie

I’ve never hid from the fact that I often cry watching SportsCenter.  I mean, there’s actually a long list of weird things that make me tear up.

Why I totally cried at The Peanuts Movie

My wife laughs at me all the time.

You know, because we’ll be watching The Middle…The Middle…and she’ll look over at me and my eyes will be as big as tennis balls. Because I’m trying to hold it in. Dang you, Sue Heck!

Well, add The Peanuts Movie to that list. I know. I know. Odd.

If you have small kids, you should definitely see it. They’ll crack up.

Me? I just cracked. And it didn’t happen until right at the end…out of nowhere!

As you would expect, for nearly an hour and a half Charlie Brown goofed everything up. No matter what he tried to do…despite his good intentions…things went wrong. If you know Chuck, you know what I’m talking about.

SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know the ending, you should bail now.

Right at the end, he finally got the courage to talk to the Little Red-haired Girl. You see, it was the end of the school year and the class had to choose pen pals for the summer. And she chose Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown! No one ever chooses Charlie Brown!

(Touching, I know! But that’s not where I lost it.)

He had to know why. Had to. So he chased her down and asked her.

I’m paraphrasing here:

Charlie Brown: I mess everything up and no one ever picks me. Why did you?

Little Red-haired Girl: (What is her name, anyway!?!?) Because I see your kindness. I see your heart. I didn’t just see the outcomes; I saw the journey.

And…that’s where I lost it.

We all mess things up sometimes. We all work hard for the best possible outcome and sometimes things just don’t work out. We all struggle sometimes to fly a simple kite…At some point, we all give everything we have to kicking that blasted football. And We. Just. Can’t. Auggghh!

And people judge us for it. They assign us a worth based on their opinion of the outcomes we deliver.

And so we all need someone like the Little Red-haired girl in our lives. Someone who sees past the messes we create, the failures, and just gets us.

About the time we saw the movie I tried to host a “fun run” in order to help collect Thanksgiving food for folks in our community. I worked on it for a while. I had a flyer, posted on social media, sent emails, created a webpage, and put signs up along the path in anticipation of all the runners. If you don’t count the people that live with me, three people came. Three. And one of them was my sister. I’m very thankful for those three people, but I did feel like Charlie Brown when it was over. Admittedly, I was slightly embarrassed.

My wife, though, helped me see the big picture.

She pointed out the journey I went on. She looked past the outcome and encouraged me the same as if 1,000 people had shown up.

I want to be like that…don’t you?

Especially for my kids…

I want to see past the messes they’ll create, past the failures, and appreciate the journey they’re on.

I want to help them see that it’s okay if you get stuck in a tree like a kite once in a while. The important thing is that you tried to fly.

I want them to see it’s better to swing and miss, than never swing at all.

I want them to know that their self worth has nothing to do with a single outcome and how others view them because of it.

I want them to know that even if no one else ever chooses them, I always will.

I want to be like the Little Red-haired girl for my children.

Because at some point, my kids will be Charlie Brown. Sometimes, we are all Charlie Brown.

And that’s why I totally cried at the Peanuts Movie.

I know, right. Good grief!


I'd like to hear from from you! Who is the Little Red-haired Girl in your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Sheila

    “The Little Red-Haired Girl is an unseen character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, who serves as the object of Charlie Brown’s
    affection, and a symbol of unrequited love. While never seen in the
    strip, she appears onscreen in several television specials, in which her
    name has been revealed as Heather.” Google

  • Joshua Lind


    I know for me, this article makes a decided path straight to my heart. Perhaps it is because like you, I know exactly what you are saying. Who dosen’t? This post uses simple words to convey profound thought. It leads us down the first few steps of a new journey- the one driven by our redeemed heart.

  • “I want them to see it’s better to swing and miss, than never swing at all.” Amen! What a great worldview to pass on to our kids. Some of my best learning and growing moments have come from times I’ve swung, and struck out. Often, failure is a stepping stone to success, and even when it’s not, there is much to be said for having the courage to try.

    I’ll be watching this movie with the family, sometime in the near future. Thanks for the great move recommendation and awesome perspective!

    • Thanks, Jed. I’m definitely trying to help them have courage to pick up a bat. If you go see the movie, bring a tissue! 😉

  • The Little Red-haired Girl once entered my life when I was in young student probably a sophomore then. I was acting like a jerk to a teacher once day. I pushed him to the breaking point. Back then I wasn’t the best student and always seeking attention through rebellion. He pulled me out of the classroom took me to the office and told me we were going to sit there until he understood what my problem was. We sat there for a while and then finally I started to tell him about my story, all the things I had bottled up and nobody knew. I almost cried telling him but when I seen him begin to cry I was shocked. He told me that no kid should have to go through what I had been through and he would trade places with me if he could. He shared some wisdom with me and then told me if I ever told anybody who he was and that cried after hearing my story he would punch me square in the nose. That day he gave me a lot of encouragement and demonstrated real masculinity. Even though I try not to shed a tear or two and bottle those up pretty well. I do feel comfortable around my wife letting one or two go especially when I see true acts of kindness, especially with kids.

    This is a great post, Stephen.

    • Great story, Kirby. It’s something how encouragement doesn’t just affect us in the moment, but also for years down the road as we reflect back and pay it forward. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: What Home Alone taught me about fear - Stephen Jones()

  • Joey Reyes ✈

    I’ve been through worse. World War 2 movies, movies about cancer, favorite characters dying. But for some reason, the final part of The Peanuts Movie just gets me SOBBING LIKE A NEWBORN.

    It just resonates with me SO MUCH. I know exactly how Charlie Brown feels. I know what it’s like to never get it right, to feel like a failure, to try your best but still fail in the end. It makes you feel kind of worthless. But that ending, when the little red haired girl tells Charlie, “When I look at you, I don’t see a failure at all” – it feels like she’s talking to ME. And that scene is so important to me because I start to believe it.

    Add that with the nostalgia of Peanuts and Charles M. Schulz’s signature at the very end, and the tears don’t stop falling from my eyes.

    • Cosmos Giannakakis

      I felt the same way, and often feel as if I’m a human Charlie Brown. I went to see the Peanuts movie with my mother. I was an only child and we’ve always been very close because of that. I sobbed at the end of the movie.