I’ve got to say that my favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show was “The Charity”. Andy is disappointed when Opie only contributes a measly 3 cents to the school charity drive for underprivileged children - but there is a reason behind Opie's apparent "selfishness". He’s secretly been saving his money to buy his underprivileged girlfriend a coat because her mother can’t afford to buy her one for the upcoming winter. My favorite part is when Andy is trying to explain why giving to the fund is important. I laugh out loud every time I see this episode:
Pa: ...why, there's somewhere like 400 needy boys in this county alone, or 1 1/2 boys per square mile.
Opie: There is?
Pa: Sho' is.
Opie: I never seen one, Pa.
Pa: Never seen one, what?
Opie: A half a boy.
Pa: Well, it’s not really a half a boy, it’s a ratio.
Opie: Horatio who?
Pa: Not Horatio. A ratio. Its mathematics - arithmetic. Look now Opie, forget that part of it. Forget the part about the half a boy.
Opie: It’s pretty hard to forget a thing like that Pa.
Pa: Well, try.
Opie: Poor Horatio.
Pa: Now look Opie, Horatio is not the only needy boy... Son, uh, didn't you ever give anybody anything just for the pleasure of it. Something you didn't want anything in return for?
Opie: Sure, just yesterday I gave my friend Jimmy something.
Pa: Now that’s fine. What'd you give him?
Opie: A sock in the head.
Pa: I meant charity.
Opie: I didn't charge him nothing!
Pa: I meant something for the joy of giving.
Opie: I enjoyed it!
Why do we watch these old shows over and over and never tire of them? Because the message appeals to our desire to do what’s right, to regain the lost innocence of our youth. That’s why. Not to mention that they are just plain funny, and a little levity at the end of the day helps us to relax and enjoy our evening.
When I was younger and more impressionable, shows like this one inspired and motivated me to want to be a person of character; to be a better person. So, every night during prime time television, without fail, we gathered around the dinner table and fellowshipped with the fine folks of Mayberry. When I grew up and had children of my own, I introduced the next generation to them. Today, my grown kids still watch the Andy Griffith Show. The Andy Griffith Show helped me to be a better parent; especially when my kids were teens. I found that when I needed to deal with an issue concerning one of my kids, I needed to find a “fishin’ hole”. When Andy needed to talk to Opie, he didn’t confront it right away, but waited for the right time. Both could find common ground and relate when they were fishing. It was the perfect place to unload the burdens of the world and figure out what to do. For my son, our fishin’ hole was the car. We couldn’t find agreement in the house, but the minute I said, “Let’s go to the store”, he jumped into the car and before we hit the top of the driveway, he began telling me about his day.
Another great show was Little House on the Prairie. My granddaughters watch regular episodes of Little House to this day. Don’t we all identify with Laura or Mary? Who doesn’t root for Laura when she’s had enough of snooty Nellie and stirs up some dust with her on the playground? Don’t we all know a Harriet Oleson? Doesn’t Pa give the best advice ever?
I like these shows as opposed to most sitcoms because they offer more than just some advice for the moment, but the messages are sage advice. They are based on a foundation that is solid and can be applied every single time and in every generation without fail. And they do more than just solve the issue at hand. They prod you on to want to apply it to your own life; to go deeper. There’s always a lesson to be learned.
Andy learned that pride is a hard pill to swallow. While he wanted Opie to give to the needy children’s fund because it was a good thing, he also didn't want anything to tarnish his reputation amongst his peers, therefore his motives were not a pure as his son’s.
Opie recognized a need on his own and set out to right a wrong. He selflessly saved his money because he was moved with compassion to do so. It’s the difference between works for the sake of works and works for the reason they were intended. Only a kid with a pure heart and a good upbringing would come to the more obvious conclusion. What a great lesson to learn from a child. Make decisions based on doing the right thing, regardless of what others think about you, and you won't spend your time having to explain your actions and take back your words; unlike his Pa in this case. In the event that we find ourselves in his shoes, we can learn a lesson from him too.
Once it dawned on Andy that it was he who had judged his son wrongly, he swallowed his pride. Maybe we could all take a pointer from this episode by learning to keep things in check before we have to swallow that bitter pill, or as it was called in the conclusion of the matter, “eatin’ crow”. I don’t know about you, but if I’ve got to swallow my pride, it seems it would go down a lot easier with a piece of Aunt Bee’s fried chicken.