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IS THERE A PLAYLIST FOR THANKSGIVING?



By Amy Cassaniti


November 20, 1973 was the date for the network TV premiere of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. In the special, after attempting to prepare a non-traditional meal for his friends, Charlie Brown is finally able to invite his friends to come with him for Thanksgiving at his grandmother’s condo. The children end the episode singing the classic “Over the River and Through the Wood.” This classic song has been a staple of elementary Thanksgiving pageants since its publication in 1844, and its eventual musical adaptation (date unknown).

Here are few facts you may not know about this classic.


  1. The song uses as its lyrics the lines from a poem written by Lydia Maria Child in her book of poetry Flowers for Children published in 1844.

  2. The original title of the poem was “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day.”

  3. The child wasn’t traveling specifically to grandmother’s house. In fact, the original poem celebrated the author’s memories of visiting her grandfather’s house.

  4. The child doesn’t travel through the “woods.” The original lyric is “Over the river, and through the wood.”

  5. Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) was a novelist, journalist, teacher, and poet who wrote at length about the need to eliminate slavery.


Despite some of the misinformation about what is now known as “Over the River and Through the Wood” when people are asked to think of a uniquely Thanksgiving song, many remember this classic from either the Peanuts special or their own Thanksgiving pageants. But what about other music selections? Are there any other specific songs just about Thanksgiving?


Well, sort of. Here are several specifically Thanksgiving themed songs:


“We Gather Together” by Adrianus Valerius

“Harvest Hymn” by Percy Grainger

“Thanksgiving Day” by Ray Davies

“Thanksgiving Song” by Mary Chapin Carpenter

“Thanksgiving Prayer” by Johnny Cash

"It's Thanksgiving," Nicole Westbrook


But when thinking about a Thanksgiving playlist, think less about songs that actually mention the word “Thanksgiving” and more about songs which embrace the theme of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is about gratitude, love, family, tradition, and of course, food! Build your playlist with songs that express appreciation for all the abundance that you experience in your life. The best songs for the holiday are those that spark special memories of family time together or songs that are meaningful to your family. Once you have narrowed down the songs that are important to your family and friends, save and use your playlist from year to year. Music, like your own green bean casserole recipe, can become special and unique for your family celebration. And like a favored recipe, you can hand down your music choices to the next generation to enjoy for Thanksgivings to come.




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