And, like Charlie's Christmas tree, I had other things I cared deeply for, mainly because they were mine.
At one time I identified mostly with Linus but, as the years wore on like cotton, I softened to the rest of the gang. Charlie Brown grew more important to me.
Charlie has been portrayed by some as a loser. He was never so for me. For me, he was a cradle of hope because he always picked himself up and went on. He never gave up on his dreams.
Lessons in humility and perseverance were not lost in the enduring humor of Mr. Schulz's great mind.
With wisdom from the comic strip firmly sunk into my being, I passed into adulthood and went to war. I flew in combat much like Snoopy did but never in so grand a style. We had to be more subtle because we were collecting wounded Marines. And children.
I came back broken a bit but never completely without hope. I continued to read Peanuts.
Recently, I went to the Charles M. Schulz Museum to visit the memory of the most important person in my early life. It might have just been my imagination but I felt the great man was there walking along with me as I revisited a large part of my youth.
I saw his desk and drafting table as well as cartoons and strips never published. Everything was placed just so here and there like the touch of spring. There was a peaceful garden outside with a zigzag sidewalk. There were kind docents who left me alone with my thoughts but stood available, full of knowledge.
"They really treat us well here," one of them told me.
Charles Schulz never saw his museum. But those who put it into being added perfect touches of him everywhere. As you walk into the great opening to the place, you might feel chills as I did and you might also sense his spirit there. Everything is done so well.
Mr. Schulz was loved around the world but he belonged to Santa Rosa. His footsteps are everywhere here and his greatness is not lost to our community.
If possible, I'll go back again to gather hope and inspiration for the time I have left. It's a wonderful place to get in touch with yourself.
I want to thank the Schulz family for doing everything just right. They are continuing to touch new hearts and those once nourished by this loving genius.
I know they touched mine. Again.