I am an Optimist.
Eleanor H. Porter
Born: December 19, 1868, Littleton
Died: May 21, 1920, Cambridge
Part of the reason may be that I grew up reading and re-reading the Pollyanna books. Eleanor H. Porter wrote the first Pollyanna, and the sequel, Pollyanna Grows Up. Pollyanna went on to have many adventures as first a young married woman, then a mom as well. I learned how a girl could have ideals, and grow up still holding those ideals. The Glad Game wasn’t necessarily something I played in my childhood, but I did learn to look on the bright side of life and keep my focus there. For those of you who haven’t read the book, here’s the cover and the blurb:
Published by L.C. Page; first edition cover, 1913
“Once you start looking for the happy things, you don’t think about the bad ones as much.” That’s the joyful way Pollyanna sees the world: no matter what happens, she plays her “Just Be Glad” game and finds the sunny side of any situation. But when she’s orphaned and forced to live with her rigid Aunt Polly, will high-spirited Pollyanna succeed in melting her Aunt’s cold heart?
My Copies Were From the 1940’s.
The first book was originally published in 1913; my copies were thick ones, bound in blue cloth, with lighter blue lettering, first owned by my mother. The thick paper pages are brown and brittle with age, but I had them on a bookshelf in every house I lived in until fifteen years ago, when bookshelf space was at a premium and my husband asked me, gently, to put away my girlhood books. I still yearn for them and at some point, I will get them out and put them back up on the bookshelf where they belong.
The Pollyanna books continued on, with Harriet Lummis Smith writing books three through six. Elizabeth Borton wrote another five Glad books, as they were called. Pollyanna and her children lived in Mexico, Hollywood, Boston; many of those stories still live inside me. When I think of today’s girls, I think you’d have to get them started early on stories like these; say, around 9, which is when I first delved into the treasure trove of books that my mother had managed to keep from her childhood. The Pollyanna books are sweet, simple, focused on community, helping each other and looking on the bright side. Even as Pollyanna grows, and her troubles grow to adult size, she still holds to community, helping each other, and looking on the bright side. Maybe today’s kids need more flash-bang in their fiction; maybe the books are too old-fashioned; but at this point, they do have a “historical” feel to them, which may serve to catch their interest.
If you have young girls, or nieces, or friends who have young girls, I urge you to introduce them to Pollyanna and the Glad books. Their parents will love you for it, and your influence may well be felt long after the child has grown. (I tried to get my sons to read them; they would have nothing to do with the books!)
Which classic novels did you read as a kid, and that still resonate with you today? I’d love to know!
~ Until the next time, cheers! ~
Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?
It’s begun. The rush to the holiday season is upon us. Madness in the form of turkey recipes, shopping lines, or the perfect gift for the frenemy in the office is descending upon everyone who has enough money in their pockets to be concerned about such things.
Holiday decorations. Pies. Uncle Jack’s drinking problem and Aunt Sally’s really bad wig. Underdone turkey and burned dinner rolls. One half of the family not talking to the other half, but both halves coming to YOUR house. Working too hard at work. Not having a job to go to. Battling your own sense of entitlement while trying to curb your kids’ “gimme” attitude. Battling your sense of despair while wondering how to provide a special, memorable time for your kids when the cash isn’t there. There’s a reason the holiday season accounts for more cases of depression than any other time of year, and strangely enough a lot of it seems to revolve around the having, or the lack, of money.
I’ve got the beginning of a solution. It doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket; it’s not a complete solution, either, and I’m pretty sure I’ve stolen this from someone else. But it’s a start. Ready?
Breathe. Take a few deep breaths. Stop your kitchen/shopping/bill-worrying madness. Go outside, spread your arms wide, breathe deeply. Feel the sun (or, if it’s night, the chill) on your face, and give thanks for being able to breathe. If you can, get your hands into the dirt. Plant something, or pull weeds. If there’s snow where you are, burn some frustrations off by building a snowman of any size (NOT as easy as it seems). Remember, you are not your bank balance. Remember to laugh!
Next, understand your place in the world – not in “bank account” terms, but in geologic terms. The mountain you can see outside your window (or the ocean, the plain, the forest, the desert) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your Aunt Fanny’s tendency to blurt out uncomfortable truths at the dinner table. In fifty years, will anyone still be alive to remember the upside-down pumpkin pie on the kitchen floor, or that your child dumped hot gravy down your mom’s silk dress? Um, probably not. In the grand scheme of things, and whether you’re religious or not, as the decades pass the stuff that has your guts tied up in knots today won’t matter. They just won’t.
Does that mean that what you do doesn’t matter? Of course not. Kindness wins over selfishness. Happy memories win over mere things. Love – shared, expressed, and heartfelt, wins over all the pettiness that this time of year can call out in people.
I worry. Don’t for a minute think I’m immune. I worry about what to give my family this Christmas – my boys are grown, so the toys of previous years aren’t appropriate. My hubby and I have everything we need, really. How to make this year special? I don’t know, but I’m determined to figure it out. I will never say I’m not a worrier.
But… the old adage “you can’t change the things that happen – you can only change your attitude toward them” is true. So I worry, then I put it away. Nothing I can do about it, so I look to the bright side of things. I know “the papers will show up in the mail”. I know “you’ll get the job”. I know, deep in my heart, that what I TRULY desire, as long as I focus on having it, will come about. It may not be in the package I think it should be, but it’ll be there. All I have to do is accept it.
So what it comes down to is, you have a choice. You can handle the holidays the way you’ve always handled them – spend too much, eat too much, bicker too much, worry too much, get pulled in a dozen different directions and battered by everyone else’s opinion on how you should live your life – OR…
You can Breathe. Resolve to put worry away, even if it’s just for a few hours at a time. Share your love. Let your family, friends, heck even your boss (if it’s appropriate) know how much you appreciate them. Change your attitude about things that normally get you tense or upset (in 100 years, will this matter?!). Let loose your inner Pollyanna. If ever there’s a time to play the Glad Game, it’s now. Go around the dinner table. What are you Glad about this year? If (or when) it degenerates into a bitter-fest, sit back and laugh, because heck – why not?Wishing you love, and joy, and peace. Wishing you the perfect memories of the upcoming, imperfect, holidays. Wishing for you the gift of laughter, good health, and good friends. Sending hugs out into the world to all my friends, old, new, and not-yet-met.