Sesame Street is turning 40 next week. Like so many others, I literally grew up with Sesame Street, having been born the same year. I loved everyone in the neighborhood, puppet and human alike. I wanted to live on Sesame Street. Even then, I recognized it as a perfect little society.
Sesame Street was the platform for so much more than teaching young children the alphabet and arithmetic. We’ve learned that even though people (and creatures) may look different we are still one in the same. We love, laugh and cry the same. We’ve learned about life and death, hope and disappointment, success and failure, joy and sorrow while watching Sesame Street. We’ve learned to respect each other and treat others like we want to be treated ourselves. These lessons far surpass academics. They helped mold our characters and lead us to becoming conscientious adults. Of course not entirely by Big Bird and Oscars doing, but to some extent we have them to thank.
Everybody you ask has a particular segment that stands out to them, or at least a favorite character with whom they identify. I loved Snuffleupagus and always remember feeling bad for Big Bird because no one believed Snuffy was real. I especially loved watching Sesame Street when my daughter was very young and seeing her excitment when she heard, “la la la la – la la la la, Elmo’s World.” My co-workers pointed out episodes with Linda, a deaf character, who taught them some sign language; laughing at how Ernie and Bert would bicker with one another; how Big Bird would always say Mr. Hooper’s name wrong; and how Oscar tried so hard to be a grouch but everyone knew that deep down inside he was a big softy.
The impact of Sesame Street remains with us always, however big or small. This is partly evidence by the fact that Sesame Street costumes come in adult sizes, but also because we are so eager to introduce the show to our own children. We will never be too old to appreciate the simplicity and honesty of these characters. And as we watch with our kids we enjoy it as much as we always did.
So we wish you happy 40th birthday Sesame Street and hello to Mr. Hooper, wherever you are.